Song of Images


Song of Images

***

I wrote this in fits and starts in 1981, at work, when I decided I would take elements of the lunchtime conversation going on amongst myself and my friends and turn it all into an Epic Poem. I still like parts of this, although in those days, my credo was: "The longer and wordier it is, the more Deep Thought it encompasses." Oh, boy...

***

This cup of tea
Tastes like a summer not too long ago,
In fact, the first summer
I was free to be.
One sip, and I am no longer
In a funky factory.
The streets of Minneapolis
Are my temporary refuge.
I am crossing Cedar Avenue,
On my way to the 400 Bar
And certain enebriation.
And I am in the Café,
My long maroon skirt
Trailing on the floor around my chair,
Drinking watered-down orange juice.

It's like the feeling
That comes when you hold a baby.
There's nothing, nothing in the world
But you and that baby.
As he waves a miniscule fist at you,
You can smell the softness
And cleanness of his
Translucent skin.
And it smells like love
And baby lotion.

It's just like the guy
Who lives on the corner.
You've been in love with him
For years,
And you'd die if he knew it,
But when he deigns to speak to you,
It's like the sky opened up
And the stars shone
And the sun fell on your head.
No one has eyes like his,
And no one can make your head reel
Or your senses spark
Quite the way he does.
And no matter what he does
You'll always feel your heart
Leap to your throat when you see him.

And when you bite into your first slice
Of summer watermelon
And the juice dribbles down your chin,
You wonder how you could ever
Have survived the winter without it.
The coolness of it slides down your throat
As smoothly as a snake over a pane of glass.
Then you spit out the seeds
And in a week there are little
Watermelon plants on your lawn,
All around the place you sat.

And one afternoon you put on a record
You haven't heard in a long time,
And the chords tangle themselves in knots
All around your brain.
You think, "The last time
I listened to this,
I was with him or her or them.
How long it's been!"
But sometimes when I listen
To an old record,
I remember lost loves
Or dead friends.
Had my friend Scott lived,
Where would he be now?
And if Don had loved me,
Where would I be now?

Like a performer on the stage
You must try to project an image
To your audience.
The notes your instrument must make
Must sound the way
A soft, gentle kiss feels.
The music must reach out
And caress as unseen hands and lips.
But other times it must scream
In soul-wrenching agony.
Yet other times, it skips and runs
Playfully, like a child,
Nearly eluding you and your purpose.

Where does time go?
Sometimes you stare at the clock
And the hands stay stuck
In the same place for ćons.
But when you look away
Just for a second
And then look back,
Hours have gone by.
And they are irretrievable.
And I - I shall never be
Eighteen again.
Where did the year go?
Time has stolen it away from me.
I am growing old.
So are we all.

A spring Saturday in Cambridge
Is as perfect as
Ginger ice cream.
New faces, new sights,
And warm, gentle wind
Wrapping soft arms around you.
And you stop and buy a book of poems
And sit on the steps
Of an old Harvard building
To read them.
One sentence hits you
And your mind is reeling
Back - back in time.
Every time you read that line,
You will feel the same,
And in years to come
You'll re-read that poem
Once in awhile,
Simply for the feeling.
And someday the line
Will be mere words to you.
Then you'll know what
You suspected.
You have changed,
Inexplicably
And
Forever.

***

C.P. Warner
© 1981


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