Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Dark Orchard" by William Wright

I am an avid reader of poetry.  I read for pleasure as much as for an intellectual curiosity, and more often than not when reading a new volume of poetry, I turn the last page feeling as if I've just stepped back into my own universe.  This haunting recollection of a boy and his childhood, relationships, prominent memories, dreams, and vivid accounts of the everyday, ordinary turned enchanting, was no exception.  

Excerpt from Book:

"Dark Orchard"

I dreamed again about the field
and for once I knew that what I miss
is not the aqueous heaven of twilit blooms
leaving the peach trees in Spring,

some roseate notion of a night-orchard's metaphor,
nocturnal paintings for a romantic farmer,
but a message whispered
through that desolate kingdom, when winter

smelled like copper.  It was knowing
the moment when I edged to the creek one evening,
the water wearing a thin veil of ice, blood in my ears
so loud I had to listen.  When just for a second,

before the sky turned a swift gray-to-plum,
the sunlight opened me like a blossom, pressing
all those long days, months, the quick story
of things to my brain as leaves to antique paper:

a grandfather gasping his last hope,
brutal girls, entire towns, a blind man
gather pecans, and a family scattering
like leaves across a starless road, the coldest

words.  My father's voice:  This can't be
a wasted thing.  Something should come
of this.  No fruit came:  No matter the dapples
of late winter light through the trees,

 the peaches dropped that summer
as he measured whether family roots
were worth a darker shame.  My mother's parting
left him withered, urged me to abandon

a house crumbling to a heap of flowers.
Like any son I stalked a claim despite the fields
mixed messages:  I would have to keep a finger
on the pulse of the world to know it's spinning

lies, eat a father's bitterness as knowledge,
sour pit toughening my tongue to stone.
Somewhere beyond those Caroline roads
another light headed straight for me,

gaining momentum, but the future clouded
in winter's dregs, the tincture of wood-smoke
and what remnant sun I caught
between the frozen wood,

corridors of empty hands
unraveling to plant a germ
in the heart of an aching child.

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