Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Walpurgis Night by Paul Klee - 1935


Come on, Stevie,
let me pull you up
just one more time
through the door
of my waiting,
to bury you at last.

Why do you want to see
your tall Seminole mother,
hand against the sun,
standing on the rocks,
searching for your
soft summer hair
in the cold swirling
currents of the river?

Why can’t you just
stay under the water,
snagged and caught
by some long ago tree
now rooted in the soft
black silt of the river’s floor?

Don’t show us your once sweet face.
Don’t show us your open wounds.
Don’t show us your watery lungs
or your eyes so wide that we can see
all of your hope lost in them.

At night I sweat, as I walk
along the river’s edge
looking for you.
On the day that you disappeared,
your mother said that I could
find you - and I believed her.

But, someday soon, Stevie,
I will be too old to drag you up
from the depths of the river.
I will be too old to fix your eyes,
and to dry you off,
and to kiss your wounds,
and to rock you in my arms,
and to sing to you,
and to pray for you.

Someday soon,
I will not drag you up,
and shake you out,
and prop you up
against the beating
of my own living heart.


George said...

How sad... K, I live by a huge lifeblood of a river. There had been so many lost in the alluring deceptions of it's currents each year.

I always wondered how many had walk her banks, waiting for their loved ones to come back...

I'd had even participated in searches.

My brother and I organized a search and found the seven year old a frantic mother was looking for. I wasn't able with all my efforts to save him it was to late...

I surely hope nothing like this happen to you...

Margaret said...

What a sad, beautiful, melancholic peom.

You're really taken your readers alongside the riverbank

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

George - Yes, it is sad. Rivers, with their undertow and strong currents are not for swimming. Your story is heartbreaking. Thanks for your very kind comments. It is always nice to see you.


Margaret - Welcome to Old Mossy Moon. Thanks, so much, for stopping in and leaving a comment. I appreciate it! ;)

Karen said...

One of the things I have loved about your poetry is that just when I think I see the direction you are going, you change something, and there is MORE-- and I am shaking my head in wonder at your ability to do that so skillfully.

This sad story affected me that way. The speaker's declaration that this desire to pull him up won't last forever blew me away!

Charli said...

Hi... I just found your blog today. I like your poems... And I have not had the chance to read many yet.

I particularly like this poem's rhythm. I feel like you and I have a similar style. Maybe.

Anyway, I'm glad I found you!

I'll be back to read more!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Karen - This poem was many years in the making, and was originally published in The Mulberry Poets Anthology a few years back.

It is a very sad poem...but one of my personal favorites. Thanks, my friend. *?*


Charli - Welcome and thanks for stopping over. I took a look over at your great blog and found many wonderful poems there. You are a talented writer. I'll be around again. Thanks for the comments!!:)

joaquin carvel said...

i love this. i love the tightrope of sorrow and a kind of exhausted love. it is haunting in both imagery (your eyes so wide that we can see/all of your hope lost in them)and voice (Why can’t you just/stay under the water) - you've not wasted a single word.

the first time through it reminded me, strongly, of the stories of la llorona - but completely reimagined, far less ghastly and far more maternal and intricate and tender.

fitting it was published!

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

Desperate longing and palpable aching cloaks the shores of this riverbank.
Through your words I can see this person searching the powerful dark waters, feel him/her being pulled in life's circles of the unknown, like the "cold swirling currents of the river."

Aine said...

This one hits hard. I love pieces that spark thoughts and musings.

I find it interesting how absolutely bizarre we humans must appear to the rest of the natural world. That we fantasize and keep memories alive of those who have died. For most other creatures life goes on and attention turns to surviving. But we continue including the deceased in our daily lives. We carry them with us until we too succumb to death.

blue possum said...

This is so beautiful, yet so VERY was hard to fight back the tears on this one. When I think about this poem and what it means it is truly unbelievable the things you have experenced in your life, mom. And yet, you can take a sad memory or event, like what happened to Stevie, and turn it into something SO beautiful. I truely admire everything you do and write. You really are an inspiration to me. Love always

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Joaquin, Oh...that is the perfect description!! - exhausted love. Wow! thanks for that. I knew how I felt - but was verbose in my explanation of my feelings. I can use "exhausted love" at poetry readings, now.

La Llorona - I must admit, I hadn't heard the legend, but Googled it. Very sad and haunting tale.

I appreciate your good literary eye on this one - I was hesitant to post it, because it is so distressing. Thanks.


Gel - yes, I thought you might be able to feel this at its core. I would like to write a short story about this incident and how it effects the child who witnessed it all - right through old age.
I appreciate your sensitive remarks. *?*


Hi Aine - Yes, like I said, I struggled with posting or not posting because of the very sad nature of the piece.

Oh, I know. We do have a whole culture of death that we observe - not that different from the ancients, but so different from the other creatures on earth.
You should do a post on something along those lines.... ;)Thank you.


Awwww - hello Blue Possum. I appreciate all your pretty words so much! Yes, we have discussed Come On, Stevie, at length - the poem and the incident. I don't know why certain things or people turn into poems. I guess it is like I say on my bio - I see the world as poetry.

Thanks for all the sweet thoughts -You truly inspire me, too, my darlin'! Love, with all my heart, Mom

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

I and others await that short story of yours with anticipation and admiration. This poem's tone carries the feel of someone who lived this event. Every time I read it, pictures float before my eyes, crisp and clear...I can't go on. This poem is tragic. As I said earlier, you explore that loss, that desperate clinging on a myriad of levels, so that these scenes stick with us.

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

Oh my, I just read that tender and sincere exchange between you and your
blue possum. That made my night!

Catvibe said...

K, this is lovely and so sad. Rivers have always caused a fear in me, for secret currents and the legends of so many children who have disappeared never to return to the surface. Your writing is filled with such longing...

S.L. Corsua said...

On a personal note, reading this hits me with the force of a gale of mixed sadness and empathy. My very first brush with anything that had to do with death was when I lost a really close friend to a river; we were barely twelve then. So sudden. There wasn't even a storm or a typhoon. The sense of loss was incredible. The first brutal, unexpected shattering, severance of ties. Anyway, it's an experience I've been meaning to write about for so long, but I keep putting it off. In the meantime, I'm swept away to reverie by your poem, which speaks to me so, so very much. Thank you for sharing it.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Gel - I appreciate your strong support of my work. If I ever do get the story written, I am going to send it to you. It took me many years to write the poem, because of my feelings...but now that I have written that, I think the story will be easier. It is a sad poem...I know, and for that, and the actual drowning - I am forever sorry.

Yes, my dear Blue Possum....thanks Gel, you are so sweet!

jason evans said...

You weave effortless emotion and intensity. A rich, almost like beautiful cinematography flows through the mind's eye.

You have a special voice, Kaye.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Cat - Yes, rivers can be very ominous. They pull us toward them in a fascination that can be fatal, in so many sad cases. Thank you for your lovely comments - I always look forward to seeing you. When is the exhibit???


S.L. Corsua -I appreciate your sharing that very personal account. I know it happened years ago, but please accept my sympathy and understanding. Ironically, I was 12 - as well, when this incident happened. Stevie was a classmate and a friend, part Seminole(he would tell you proudly).
Yes, as you say - unexpected shattering.

I really couldn't write about this for many years...I had to come to terms with it.

Thank you very much for your praise of my poem. It means so much to me. I know that when you do write the poem about your experience - it will be brilliant!


Jason - I always look forward to your comments so much, and appreciate your thoughts on my work. You have a talent for seeing beyond the flat surface of the poetry. Blessings...

Ghost Dansing said...

a beautiful and intriguing poem..... new river gorge

Linda S. Socha said...

Incredibly powerful and moving...sad and at the same time...determined? Thank you.There are so many layers....upon layers.
I enjoy your work

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Ghost Dansing - Welcome to OMM. I appreciate your coming by and leaving a comment. Hope to see you here again. I'll swing by your blog soon.

New River Gorge in WV? This drowning happened just down the river, maybe twenty five miles from the gorge....


Linda - Thank you for visiting and welcome to OMM. I appreciate your reflective remarks and the nice compliment. I hope you will visit again. I will stop by your place soon. ;)

CLAY said...

"hand against the sun,
standing on the rocks,"--Brilliant. This poem has made my night! Thank you Ms. Gilbert.

Clayrn Darrow

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Clay - I certainly appreciate so warm a remark. Thank you for coming by and commenting. :) Cheers to you!

Vesper said...

K., I’m wordless. This is so hauntingly beautiful that my heart aches. You have a magnificent talent. Thank you, my dear K.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Vesper, I appreciate your wonderful compliment. I always look forward to seeing you here. Thanks, my friend. ;)

Julie said...

I love this poem. K, you never cease to amaze me. This poem is sad but also beautiful in its sadness. And the power of this piece is astounding. It's hard to pick out a favorite stanza, but this one really jumps out at me:

"Don’t show us your once sweet face.
Don’t show us your open wounds.
Don’t show us your watery lungs
or your eyes so wide that we can see
all of your hope lost in them."

That amazing rhythm coupled with the imagery is so breathtaking. Another excellent poem.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - It is always a pleasure to see you here. Many thanks for your kind, reflective comments. I do appreciate them very much!

Sarah Hina said...

I really did leave a comment here earlier. Huh.

I just wanted to say that this poem left me a bit speechless, K. That there were so many currents of emotion to swim through--longing, fear, bitterness, and a kind of shield of pride. In still being alive.

It is a huge, huge poem. And you completely carried it off. Bravo!! (seriously, take a deserve it!! :)).

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Sarah, this poem was a big poem for me, too, for three reasons. It took me years to write, it was published, and it was cathartic.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for this poem and your unwavering endorsement of me and my work. ;)