Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Bell narcissus, bobbing on the swell of wind
that licks up the foothills, trumpets filled,
gulping lungfuls of the upslope morning.
Springing mute-lipped, one March day bowed with snow,
the next, by their deep pneumatic will, upright,
flexing, boxing air.

Still, unstill cornets who neither sing nor stop.
Soundless, December’s cellared children,
together tethered to unspeaking kin,
hand on mouth should someone hear, speaking
only through their skin.

What we know of yellow is extracted,
emetic, from their frayed and furrowed flutes.
Use this caustic color with care, she warns:
Spring brings out its fighters first, those with a thirst
for struggle. Picture tinctured spirit, too strong
for pretty idling.

Copyright © 2019 Lilibug Publishing.

Primavera

It happens I’m a little loopy about Portuguese, in song and poetry, and when it comes to song, about fado and Mariza. (For background, here)

A song of hers has been going through my head, on repeat. At least, it’s on Spotify on repeat, and so it’s been going through my head: Primavera. Spring. Archetypal fado. Listened to it a basketful of times (uma cesta cheia de vezes?) before chasing up the lyrics, then found a translation, and tweaked the translation a little. Like most love songs, the lyrics themselves don’t blow you away, but Mariza herself will, and the vocal gets in the gut like a Lisbon fish hook.

The video comes complete with a guy playing the guitarra portuguesa who looks like the Anonymous mask experiencing carnal bliss. I say that with respect.

Spring

All the love that had bound us,
as if it were wax,
was crumbling and breaking apart.
Ah, tragic spring
how I wish, how I wish
we had died that day.

And I was condemned to so much:
to live with my weeping
to live, to live, and without you.
Living, though, without forgetting
the enchantment that I lost that day.
Hard bread of loneliness —
that’s all we get,
that’s all we are given to eat.

If you keep on living,
what does it matter,
if the heart says yes or no?

All the love that had bound us,
was breaking down, crumbling,
overshadowed by dread.
No one should talk about spring.
How I wish, how I wish
we had died that day.

Lyrics based on lissber translation

Deer on the Deck

I was having coffee outside on the second floor,
remembering how the handyman had said
when you have a wooden deck in Colorado
you’ll be replacing that two by six fir
every couple years — they get
so twisted by the summer sun.

And because he was right,
when the doe walked out on the deck below,
between inch-wide cracks,
I could make out every hair of her forehead,
cocked and furrowed like she felt
something slightly odd
but seeing nothing, shifted, cleaned,
each pegleg step sounding up
as though through the boards of a ship.

She was pregnant
and the wood below was cool
so I watched her for close to half an hour
with a swelling sense — not of love exactly
but unfathomable care
racing out like water dropped from a height
in every direction above her head.

And it occurred to me
that this must be how gods are created:
the creature below, unsettled,
with its secrets,
with its exquisite womb,
and the accidental hunter above,
in agony, close enough to touch,
too far to know.