We only consult the ear because the heart is wanting. (Pascal)
But we are all fish
out of water,
giddy with oxygen.
Who can tell
the smell of ozone –
electric & wet – from
the taste of
their own fear
when the storm comes?
the commercial fisherman:
we entered the sound on a rough sea
in pea-soup fog
cut the motor & listened
for the buoy clang
the captain swears he can feel
the change in the swells
but that too could be
a kind of listening
men don’t talk about
their instincts much
we’re supposed to be impervious
to gauge to ogle
but looking makes everything
smaller than it is
& if something can kill you
you need to find it
keep it close
every pore in my body listened
for that buoy its dull echo
sweeter than a church bell
over the hiss of the waves
Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
I crave immersion in the medium of grace.
I think of whale song more alluring
than any Lorelei, seals & walruses
whose ancestors heard the surf
pounding in their temples. Otters,
already so much more playful than
their bloodthirsty cousins on dry land.
I think perhaps our destiny is not
to be sucked out among the stars – vacuum
without sound – but back in the water,
sonorous & shining. Like Jesus
inscribed in the cursive alpha:
shoal. Implausible feast.
The storm approaches.
As pressure drops,
the ears fill
& pop & the heart
when kisses land
a fisherman’s fly
on the skin – creek
or lover –
& the trout in
takes the hook.
The least movement affects all nature; the entire sea changes because of a rock. . . . Impenetrability is a quality of bodies. (Pascal)
Yesterday morning, from the trees
up on the ridge, a cacophony of rusty hinges.
Startled by something, it stills, turns
into an immense rustle of wings.
A thousand blackbirds lift, pivot,
drift high across the field like
a cloud of smoke.
This morning, walking through the fog
on top of the same ridge, I am stopped
by a yellow sugar maple leaf
dangling from an invisible strand of silk
six feet off the ground.
The slight breeze is enough to make it
flip, flop, fly. The forest drips.
These are not metaphors for anything.
Science says, a body at rest,
a body in motion. But only
such abstract bodies really make sense.
Ah, unreal body, home to an unreal sense!
Move one finger and the universe shifts: try it.
Let the small hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- The anatomy of perception (1)
- The anatomy of perception (2)
- The anatomy of perception (4)
- The anatomy of perception (5)
- The anatomy of perception (conclusion)