Words to Steal

NaPoWriMo DAY THIRTEEN 13 April 2020REV


Where to steal words

with the power to morph

a scribe into poet?

Crows, a whole bunch,

ceaselessly caw and clamor,

up in the leafless beech,

a caucus discussing

what next to take from whom:

black-feathered robber barons.

I, too, beseech:

where to steal  

those longed-for words?

A pilgrim, I tried many places:

Salamanca for Fray Luis de Leon,

translator of the Song of Songs

incarcerated for the heresy

of putting sacred Latin poetry

into vernacular Castilian.

I touched a worn wooden bench

in the lecture hall where

back after years in prison

he began: “as we were saying yesterday”

Further in my search

I visited graves of the famous.

Contemplated Rilke’s tombstone

leaning against the back of a small church

on a windswept Swiss hilltop

above the village of Raron,

disheveled branches of a rosebush

nodding to the sandstone inscription,

birth date, no death-date,

epitaph: “Rose, oh pure contradiction,

delight of being no one’s sleep

under so many lids.”

Looking for others’ immortal words,

I went to where the bones

of medieval troubadours

were laid to rest,

like Walther von der Vogelweide

in a cloister,

surrounded by a miniature garden

in Wuerzburg,

a Bavarian university town.

Looking for magic,

I visited a secret spot

deep in a forest near Rennes,

favored by Merlin according to legend,

not enchanting, ghostly,

reeking of rotting leaves,

putrid water from a nearby brook,

in the company of an exorcist friend,

his predilection poetry

and gold-embroidered satin.

I turned to the living.

At summer readings

in the Chateau de Lavigny

sat among other listeners, rapt,

on disparate, antique chairs,

(Lake Leman shimmering beyond

if you dared nudge the velvet curtain),

afterwards sharing a glass of white wine,

animated chatter, in the chateau garden,  

enveloped by the scent of summer flowers,

crunch of gravel underfoot.

What did I take away? I stole a high.

Via appreciation, applause, admiration:

a silver dollar for proving words’ possibility

beyond the pull of gravity.

I tuned to the music of others’ poems

and my own melody awakened.

Something resonated within

like a grandmother’s clock

in a watchmaker’s shop

ticking to the beat of its neighbor,

like a cello’s strings’ barely perceptible hum

vibrating to a nearby accord,

like Sleeping Beauty brought to life

by the prince’s kiss.

Did she steal it or did he?

Or was it a luminous gift?

Rewarded with another kiss

and more to come?

No losses here.

A win-win constellation:

the sun forever ready

to regale its light  

to a slumbering moon.

Now a crow steps through short grass:

a patch of charcoal

in the spring-green meadow,

turns, and in an instant’s sunbeam

black back and folded wings

gleam like polished steel.

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