Me or the Valley Carpenter Bee
by Bobbie Jo Allen
Mind awakens to the sudden sight of A before-unknown bright thing: it hovers,
the bee; it signified at once, beauteous— a(s) plump with pollen, bold againt the rosemary,
it shook off the fog of experience, shining shining primeval fuzz of a whole-body halo,
the color of warm honey: disappearance of sense into a creature immersed in its own loveliness; so
enters—so exits thought—becoming strange: green eyes gold wings gold body—
a new idiom; I identify with a gold strangeness—unalighting—
this first-seen thing—it transformes me, to/as a topaz foiled in rich green rosemary—
a heart-harmonic sounding (so silently)— a rare chance sighting—I am then
understanding I am not here in silence seeking small blue blossoms,
and in that the sense of disappearance in/to a beauty I can’t understand, bridging me into
the object only as bright as the sun - light only as bright as the object it strikes.
by Bobbie Jo Allen
Morning chiaroscuro as the midsummer sun
streaks through tree leaves, just so
entering the window, just so. The glow
of the pothos leaf’s like a lamp
and I’m entranced--
a neon green beacon. When shall we three
meet again, light leaf and me. . .
I can watch the manifested seconds
tick by as an edge of shadow,
and it begins its eclipse,
and then I get that
I’m moving so swiftly through space
it only seems like stillness,
get that I won’t know the moment
until it arrives or once it’s gone.
So I chase it with my open hand,
find flesh is too thick to be luminous
but the light lends
me a kind of delicacy,
the morning quiet a kind of quotidian peace.
I’m only dense flesh after all,
and open to interpretation.
When I hear the washer end its spin cycle
I’m done ruminating, but turn
to watch a towhee pluck a fat caterpillar
out of the basil. I’m grateful for the dull
brown bird eating that bright green alive,
making good use of time and shadow,
realize it’s hard to imagine now,
any light without this dark.
Listening, tracing the sound water moving over rock, sliding over rock,
the granite bone of the mountain, and moving swiftest where it finds no resistance,
the surrounding sound suggesting other sounds, intimate voices in the distance,
instruments playing nothing all at once, so meaningless is the sound you forgot
where the listening started, so losing who the listener is, what is you-ending
or river-begins, as the water, held in the double vision of introspection
and awareness, achieves such clarity it is only perceived in reflection,
in movement so perfect it seems like stillness, the sound of water resonating
in the bright new autumn air, the light poised in an equinox of thought and action,
the mind moving to where it is freest to flow, since it has no stone to question it,
no intention to trouble its illusions, no time to wait for or turn to seek.
I begin with the lower ranges of the human voice,
the constant acoustics of speech, spectro-temporally
speaking: Time and air making words—Magic: The een of a
hinge or iss of a gust forming meanings lost even to
those who know the language, yet spark the body, the senses:
Muscles releasing the fire of laughter—or tears, even!
Distance no matter, distinctions understood. These are words.
Do you hear it? Without you, no poem; but I can’t wait for
your understanding, can’t stand still for your Apprehension;
must manifest the line in absence, must mold constantly
the connotation and gently open the meaning of
the word—Still, you will complete the Event, you will see, speak
(spacio-temporally, so to speak) the excellent
metaphor for common experience: It’s a crowded
room. Words I do not know; you making the wonderful sound.
The blue-black form of the crow in flight
hot against the grey-white July sky:
A grammar, of sorts: Perceiving its distinc-
[“T”]ness, yes; but also wondering: Does it
know wonder? It flips and drops in
the heat wave’s updrafts—with, and/
or against, the wind: That’s like a laugh,
distinctly seems shaped like an ecstasy
in a pure act—pure action—“in-stinct”—
Its shape against: also a bar or barrier,
a defining thing; each name, a carrier.
The perched hummingbird scratches with his fine toe
a spot just above his eye: turn of the head: Ah. Just so.
Then: off to crush his enemy, that other hummer,
he knocks the nuthatch off a branch for good measure.
In a swift turn of events, the fig beetle wins the battle
over the mulch, burrows below the kangaroo paw,
which decides to continue blooming indefinitely, impossibly.
A young crow wags the power line like a jump rope—rough
landing—while two lemon-yellow butterflies joust over
said kangaroo paw (pink), presumably in dispute
for the right to make more lemon-yellow butterflies.
The fox squirrels can’t decide who rules the coral tree.
Small chaos in the garden, in the margins of tragedies,
of so many huge defeats. But struggle itself, a matter of scale.
When the hummingbird hit the window
there was a small, singular sound,
its own strong wings creating such Force
its light, its feathers, and its air made a thump.
The tragedy of velocity. A body against unseen
glass; a body flies into a sky where there is none.
Now strangely complete, strangely perfect,
strangely majestic in death, iridescent in the sun:
Reflection can be deadly. We see: a still-hummingbird
lying still in the palm of a human hand, a mystery.
The mockingbird sings all night
with an imperative that penetrates
the window panes, the walls, and by
midnight has soaked the whole house
in its intense variations. Sleep seems
unworthy: I sense an infinitive need:
To witness. It’s roosted in the Silver Sheen,
a tree also sleep-less, night-blooming.
On the floor, beneath the song
and the tree, I reach up and open
the window, saturated by the sound
and the silence that surrounds it,
helpless and afraid: What am I?
Stupid and mute, and not the first
to lose my mind while being washed
by complex beast-music: A will beyond
me works that spell. . .I know too much.
But at least I know enough to stay
silent, wait to say it until morning.