In Which We Resurrect A Classic Poeme In Order to Stoke the Faith

The Diver

Sank through easeful
azure. Flower
creatures flashed and
shimmered there–
lost images
fadingly remembered.
Swiftly descended
into canyon of cold
nightgreen emptiness.
Freefalling, weightless
as in dreams of
wingless flight,
plunged through infra-
space and came to
the dead ship,
carcass that swarmed with
voracious life.
Angelfish, their
lively blue and
yellow prised from
darkness by the
flashlight’s beam,
thronged her portholds.
Moss of bryozoans
blurred, obscured her
metal. Snappers,
gold groups explored her,
fearless of bubbling
manfish. I entered
the wreck, awed by her silence,
feeling more keenly
the iron cold.
With flashlight probing
fogs of water
saw the sad slow
dance of gilded
chairs, the ectoplasmic
swirl of garments,
drowned instruments
of buoyancy,
drunken shoes. Then
livid gesturings,
eldritch hide and
seek of laughing
faces. I yearned to
find those hidden
ones, to fling aside
the mask and call to them,
yield to rapturous
whisperings, have
done with self and
every dinning
vain complexity.
Yet in languid
frenzy strove, as
one freezing fights off
sleep desiring sleep;
strove against the
cancelling arms that
suddenly surrounded
me, fled the numbing
kisses that I craved.
Reflex of life-wish?
Respirator’s brittle
belling? Swam from
the ship somehow;
somehow began the
measured rise.

Robert Hayden

The greatest African-American poet ever, Hayden’s Collected Poems is a slim but infinitely rewarding volume of high language mixed with raw emotion, of his Ba’hai faith and lack of faith in other things. He was near-sighted, too.

If you buy his Collected for a loved one, she’s bound to think you actually know something and/or care about her.

“Sewn” — The Feeling

“On a Neck On a Spit” — Grizzly Bear

“Elephants” — Damien Rice

“9 Lives Demo” — Damien Rice

“I Believe She’s Lying” — Jon Brion

“I Love You Anyways” — Travis

“I Think I’m In Love” — Spiritualized

3 thoughts on “In Which We Resurrect A Classic Poeme In Order to Stoke the Faith

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