A Birthday in April ~ Wordsworth
Prompt from The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
(The first of three posts which will celebrate the life of a
poet or author who was born in April.)
The title of my poem is a line from Wordsworth, one of several offered as inspiration.
There are thoughts that run like rip tides through the brain
and carry you far from the firm and reassuring land.
The swimmer here is far beyond his natural depth
and struggles, kicking in blind panic at
the images that lurk below the surface or attack
your preconceptions from their skyward mounting waves that lift you high
until you're dizzy from the visions that you see
as you look down from God-like heights through many a
pooling green or blue into a world of flying fish with monkey faces,
whales with horns and crabs with buckets -- the J.C.B.s of their
unlikely worlds. Between your high enlightenment and that
great darkness far below, a net of foamy white lines stretches
out across the surface of the sea in patterns such as fish scales make
on creatures that you can't describe, an ocean wide.
It's thought made visible perhaps, a watery script
that someone may decode, of how a dolphin thinks.
A slight wind ruffles, rearranges them;
new insights surface that had lain below.
Though few and far between and lucky you will be if you can catch one
of the thought tsunamis. Like summer storms on land
they rise from nowhere, sweep you half a world off course
and shatter every dated thought-form that you ever had.
They'll leave you crumpled on some rocky shore with
a whole world of concepts to rebuild. Once back afloat,
words, shapes, sounds, smells and surfaces flow round you,
round up past associations and form new. Connections made
that never were before. Cross currents slap and suck,
their slackening waters slow your headway, but the slowness is
the point, the sea now has you in its arms.
It curdles even as it cradles you. Others will play safe,
will make the voyage in a boat or on a raft.
Such thought is not immediate, it cannot take you
by the throat or simulate the drowning of your ancient past,
the freedom that the waves give
to the thought that dies, only to give birth.
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