Written: August 2021
From THE WATERS: Prose and Poetry, By R.P. Watts
A some rose, grapes, a life below
a some rose, grapes, a life below
a melting cloud bathes the morning
smoke force carries me forth
from beneath the dirt i did sown
the ghosts beyond her eyes
youth wilts breasts, fires an ageless torch
between the flower-horsed eden
before the kiss-licked bloom and seed in
the wet summer beachmen rage in the feeding.
a build, the cast, a sandied sea-greeting
an eye in the sight of her blood.
a skin beaded, a promise
a raised texture, a lip-line,
holy purpose upon us.
ground flakes, a memory of earth
a breathing tree
a pulse, a girth
a rose, the rain
an end, fruit sweeter now than then.
do not forget the blood in the trees.
broken bones, the bark, the bees
do not forget red flesh astrewn
a knife, a needle, a season, a song
do not forget the jilted sky
not do forget the sky jilted
forget sky do the jilted not
I have daily flashes of scenes of my life. They are visual mixed with the emotional. Some of them come regularly at distinct times of the day, others seemingly at random. At one particular point in my day, I have a flash to a particular party that my ex-wife and I were at. There doesn’t appear to be any significance to the memory. Nothing distinct or memorable. Just a context, a particular feeling (not extreme positively or negatively).
What I can make out of these flashes is that they are the soil, if you will, of the arc of our lives. The flashes are points of reference to help us make sense and meaning.
This work explores particular attention and ties together several of these flashes. It attempts to make sense out of them, ultimately deciding entropy will rule destiny in the end.
What we know about memory, is that it is certainly not reliable. All artists (I believe) with integrity have to compromise with themselves trying to do their best to make sure it gets on the page, screen, canvas, etcetera as authentically to their own experience as possible. But what does it say about us in what we choose to remember and how to remember it?
The flashes direct how we remember our memories. These are the context reference points mentioned above. Perhaps they are visual or emotional references, perhaps just getting across a certain theme. And of course, we have the choice to remember things a certain way. We may not always be aware of this choice, nonetheless, we are making it daily.
This work attempts to be honest in this understanding without selling short the emotional truths carried within it.
I remember my great-grandmother’s (her name was Rose) house. For me, there is something elemental in its memory. She was from another century, born in 1890. Even very young, this was profound to me. Everything in her presence was otherworldly. My brothers and I would eat the grapes from the vines that grew in her backyard. Her garage was filled with what appeared to be the experiments of men attempting to learn how to build machines, mysterious and ancient. The smell is in my nostrils. I remember her telling it like it is, circumventing the niceties of common society. I remember the hot concrete in summer and the vague, blurry images of my surroundings through the heat. I had no destination, only to exist and dissipate, like smoke. A glorious feeling of peak and inconsequentiality. The teenagers (and all the interesting people) I witnessed carried on with such immeasurable energy driven by sex and the desires of the flesh. It was beautiful, but I wasn’t supposed to believe that. And so I acted like I didn’t, even though I knew everyone around me thought the same, but would not say it aloud. I waited. No one ever did. Not while I was young.
Even now there is some understanding that these elements are the soil that I’ve grown out of. I consider why I’ve loved who I have loved. How far out of reach she had to be for me to properly fall for her. How age reveals death but does not quell the power of the desires to make right ancient desires growing from the soil of youth. And we grow up, we’re segregated. There are things we are allowed to say to one another, boys and girls. Women and men. We feel the distance, the divide. Things we’re allowed to know about one another, the choice of whether to say it or not and what it would mean if we did or didn’t. How much should we reveal? How much is fair? How much is too much?
Will anyone ever want to hear it all?
I can tie this soil, the early memories of my life, to who, why, and how I’ve loved with experiences of awe. An experience of looking at something mundane and natural, realizing, experiencing, feeling, being the miracle that it is.
And then it’s gone, you can no longer grasp it. It was right there, and now it seems to be lost. Taken. Until it finds you again. And when it does, you’ve got some experience and try to hold on for you know it’s fleeting. You tell yourself to remember, “hold on”. Eventually, your only hope is to fade even as you try to hold on. Until you’re gone. Even in your anger and blaming of the sky, you dissipate. You become as absent as what you’ve tried so hard to hold on to.
This is the dictum of this poem.
The dance between smoke and flesh, spirit and body, consciousness and permanence, and life and death.