I know it’s been almost a week, but here’s another poem as part of the ekphrastic series, assuming a poem about a poem can be in that category. This one is by Jack Spicer, one of the poets Larry first introduced me to when I came to the West Coast decades ago. Like Lew Welch, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, his work was different than anything I’d seen before.
Any fool can get into an ocean…
Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the
water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.
This poem is doubly interesting to me, because it has a labyrinth in it, and while Hurricane Sandy swallows the East Coast, I have been working in the sun to reclaim the labyrinth out front, chopping, cleaning, planting bulbs and fall vegetables. I had to look back at the first post in this blog to reconstruct the exact pattern. It was too grown over to see. Now, though, it’s at least walkable as a labyrinth again, and anyone can get in or out by following the paths. More plantings and photos to come.