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Friday, December 22, 2006

Dead Beat Chooses a Christmas Poem: In California During The Gulf War - Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov floats past. Dead Beat is in the shower.

"Open up!" she yells.

D.B. is singing Blue Christmas too loudly and cannot hear her.

"Open up Dead Beat, I know you are in there." She bangs on the door near taking it off its hinges.

I arrive out steaming in my bathrobe.

"What's up Lev?" I ask.

"Dead Beat this is serious. I read your post - I Write In A Night Of Shame - I want you to listen to this. This is my Christmas poem."

Dead Beat listened then, and he listens and will listen then and then again.


In California During the Gulf War

Among the blight-killed eucalypts, among
trees and bushes rusted by Christmas frosts,
the yards and hillsides exhausted by five years of drought,

certain airy white blossoms punctually
reappeared, and dense clusters of pale pink, dark pink--
a delicate abundance. They seemed

like guests arriving joyfully on the accustomed
festival day, unaware of the year's events, not perceiving
the sackcloth others were wearing.

To some of us, the dejected landscape consorted well
with our shame and bitterness. Skies ever-blue,
daily sunshine, disgusted us like smile-buttons.

Yet the blossoms, clinging to thin branches
more lightly than birds alert for flight,
lifted the sunken heart

even against its will.
But not
as symbols of hope: they were flimsy
as our resistance to the crimes committed

--again, again--in our name; and yes, they return,
year after year, and yes, they briefly shone with serene joy
over against the dark glare

of evil days. They are, and their presence
is quietness ineffable--and the bombings are, were,
no doubt will be; that quiet, that huge cacophany

simultaneous. No promise was being accorded, the blossoms
were not doves, there was no rainbow. And when it was claimed
the war had ended, it had not ended.

1 comment:

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