Lise Downe


Nobody, she said, but nobody
could have foreseen the day
of irreducible, irretrievable
hats, hats, hats.
Perhaps from the footprints, rather
than their true colours
one might have detected a mingling
of more than texture and embroidery. 

But now the tiles and pots have vanished.
Clues intensified by perpetual states of erosion.
All invented to aid the eye through elements
of wind.
And gravity. 

And yet we always find below the profusion
of leaves and berries
here, in these unlit and seldom-visited spaces
how different the sanctuary is
when tending to the task of continuing afternoon. 

Utterly absorbed, meticulous even
undergoing the vagaries of time
and time's again turn
of the handle where whole scenes change 
reflected in each whim of a passing hour. 

These tracks in the grass
(for instance)
coming or going? 

All is conjecture. Neither here nor there
has anything to do with the bend
or the number of bays that remain unaltered.
Only that just such excursions, such
milestones, open the aisles and gladly
welcome a stranger to their shores. 

Turning the tide of travel
toward something less complicated. 

A bed of maidenhair ferns.
Even fresher sprigs of mint. 

The first pleasant surprise encountered
en route to what every schoolgirl knows
giving entry to spacious dioramas
with nary a sense of clutter.

The Influence of Complete Darkness  

It was the dusk of a November evening
somewhere in the mid-seventeenth century.
Nothing was concealed or conveyed.
No questions of evidence.
Simply a concentration of sunflowers. 

As the world turned, they turned
from pathos to persuasion
guided by the radiant light. 

Two fresh puddles inserted themselves
and were read as a dark ellipse.
Nothing hindered them from soaking through. 

Perhaps a fish detected them before disappearing
its far-off murmur a mutter now
sounding something like the inscription
on a Japanese fan by Totoki Baigai: 

"Outside the city walls  there's an odd fish.
I don't know its name."

Perish the Thought 

Alas, there is always the temptation
to think of what we speak
to reconfigure it or them
into self-standing objects
enhanced so cleverly to halt
then hasten us into
the neighbourhood of a pine tree. 

What real flowers flock there, are
flocking there so close to the ground? 

We speak of a given.
A calling.
Climate and soil.
Crisp and delicate fretwork 
keeping vigilant watch along the frontiers.
Yet this is what happens. 

And when it does, we tend to think 
that if we keep repeating, loudly
in spite of the precarious wobble
that all will be well.
Decipherment easy. 

In a sense this is written deliberately.
These leaves our senses an urge
to rustle then stand
one's ground once shaking the tree. 

We could relax then and credit the material
witnesses who have come back 

            From where?

as if in a daze, knowing
when to bow and when to beckon
then dying shortly after learning to say "cup." 

((((((((( The Alterran Poetry Assemblage )))))))))