Poetry & Spirituality
Torus, Rising Marjorie Partch, 2003
I like the way he talks
like a Japanese poet —
like black ink
in all directions.
It’s curious to think
how laconic Vermont +
can add up to such a delicacy —
Which, most of the time, makes me
look down and bow out
of a clever citified response.
But sometimes I pick up
on one of the reverberations as it
I want him to know
I am listening, really
listening as he fells his trees
in his dark and solitary forest
— And I want to play in the waves
sounding in my mind.
At times he is amused or engaged
by the counterpoint taking the fugue
on a new tack,
or sometimes he is startled
at really being heard.
Occasionally he seems to deem
my interloping as merely
redundant and I blush.
And at other times he is clearly unnerved
by the harmonics of the Unsaid
being said and so much lost in the
translation and I
wish I could find the right
key to open a new door.
Secretly I send a thousand “cancel, cancels”
too late and remind myself again
that for a writer this is a foreign language
and I vow to keep practicing my Silence.
Then our dark eyes meet
and it is like crows congregating
two and two between the telephone
lines and words are murdered
in their tracks —
Until he stammers for
to say that won’t turn ten feet
deep, that will not rise
up beyond its single flat
plane — but he never does
and it always will.
He builds houses, you see, from ground
zero: a circle drawn in chalk
becomes a spiraling staircase,
bentwood banister describing the
arc; fine mahogany cabinets and
frame cubes of space.
He adds alcoves and nooks
where foxes chased rabbits
and architects drew flat walls.
He makes rooms to live in
boxes around air, spaces to love
in to quarrel in to make
up in to curl up with a good
book and think and watch
the news; to shower and eat in
to grow up in, to grow old in
perchance to be born in and die.
He counts windowpanes in lights
and knows what that will do
to my dark eyes;
he brings me bright
bits from his world
more precious than my footnotes
falling flat from poison-ivoried halls.
And I think: Not for nothing was
Jesus a carpenter, an initiate of
mysteries, magic, and miracles —
Geometry both sacred and plane
He told me once
about a lake “turning” itself inside-
out like a huge heaving, earthquaking
doughnut of water — A
phenomenon of thermal inversion
like a thunderstorm, he said, which
he sailed into habitually as a boy, it
stank to high heaven, he said, as all
the sludge rose
up from the bottom
and emergency oxygen was sucked
in to the vortexing vacuum at the
center replenishing the whole
system – A Torus, Rising?,
I ventured and he smiled.
He gave me a look at once
playful and penetrating and
challenging and said,
“I guess YOU would say it was cleansing …”
“Well, it was,” we answered in unison.
After a pause he added, “You
wouldn’t want to be out
in the middle of that lake.”
It was a long time
before I understood
his warning about the undertow
around his lonely hunter
of a heart in search of itself.