Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Poem: In/let by Jo Thorpe

This is a sluicing place.
Today, through the open door
of the Boathouse where I write,
Alan the builder works quietly and well,
puts sand in the concrete, fills yellow
plastic bags with mix to make the compound wall.
I don't want to think about work or plastic.
I want to cast back to the sandspit at noon,
how I stood on its bright neck, tide muscling in,
its heedless pulse finding every scooped-out
glyph and groove, each dry-channelled grainy place,
and sand so white that shallows could be seen right through
to aqua, turquoise, then the deep-rushing, deep-flushing
cerulean centre, doing what beauty does -
lifts us past the perpetual scrap
into largo of width - estuary, ocean -
into 'blue and a blue and a breath'.

I did not sit on the ribbed sand.
I did not turn back, nor follow the watermark's
inland loop, but stood till the inlet took everything -
sky, bush, reflecting even the echo of an answer found
I am because you are in the vast harem of its eye.
I'm out there, treading the edge
as it's re-shaped - as we've been,
by Sirens, the poet's dome, lucent days like this
that take the watching heart and throw it open.


Jo Thorpe's picture

Like music, I get crushes on poets and my current crush is poet, dancer and dance history teacher Jo Thorpe, whom I know as a co-Trustee of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust. 

I was intrigued by her new collection in/let (Steele Roberts) when I read Hunt the slipper which was posted on the Tuesday Poem hub on December 7 last year. Who could resist lines like these:

recalling a tale of that chaste ballerina
stopped by a highwayman wanting
not gold, but demanding she dance
on her black panther skins
spread out on the scintillant snow ...

I finally bought in/let last week and have already posted a little on the glittering/fairytale, muscular/dancing, instinctive poems within, and am posting here the title poem with permission. Here we find surely the perfect first line about a place of water, and the perfect end, and such as this in between:

I want to cast back to the sandspit at noon,
how I stood on its bright neck, tide muscling in,
its heedless pulse finding every scooped-out
glyph and groove ...
The image is powerful, glittering ... and the sounds fill the mouth – dance in the mouth - flood, spill. After the lapping double 'l's' in the half-rhymes at the end of lines at the start, hear here the 'st' and 'sp'  and 'sc' sounds - like the 'sh' of water coming over the sand (which does indeed become 'sh') - opening up to the smooth 'oo' of 'scooped' and 'groove' - which becomes eventually the open 'o's' at the end of the poem, as everything - the body, the water, the mouth - opens up.

This is a poem of an inlet (the blissful Awaroa Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds) and of letting in. Letting in water and light and colour and language and poetry. The 'poet’s dome' could be Shelley's: ‘Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity.’ 

This is a poem of the body – a builder’s body at work, a body of water at work, a poet/dancer watching. Gorgeous.

For more Tuesday Poems, including Poem for a Hard Time by Canadian poet Lorna Crozier at the hub, click on the quill in the sidebar or click here . TP, too, is a sluicing place of sorts.


Helen Lowe said...

Mary, I love the 'more is so much more' feeling of this poem and phrases like "tide muscling in ..."

Melissa Green said...

Mary, this is a glorious poem--it is like a dance in the mouth, such beautiful sounds, her rhythms mimetic of the tide, the movement of the tides' debris, deeply deeply seen into the cerulean heart of beauty. Your exposition is wonderful, too, Mary. It would be so easy to have a crush on the very gifted Jo Thorpe. Thank you for posting another of her poems.

Claire Beynon said...

Mary, your writing here is as splendid, fine-tuned and on-the-move as Jo's is. A bow to both of you. Love, Claire xo

Catherine said...

It's a very physical poem, isn't it, which might be expected from a dancer. Like Helen, I loved the phrase "tide muscling in" and also "every scooped-out/glyph and groove"

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks for the comments everyone- fabulous for Jo to see where her poetry has taken people. The muscling tide is clearly a hit (as I write that, I can't help but think about the other mussels under that water...)

I love the phrase ' a dance in the mouth', Melissa, and you're right the rhythms are the tide... I'd love to see a dance with physical poetry like this incorporated somehow (How about it, Jo?)

Jennifer Compton said...

it's a graceful and airy poem - like the harem trope - didn't get to see enough of Jo in wgton -

AJ Ponder said...

Such beautiful rich poetry, and even better live - it was a pleasure to hear Jo read. What a wonderful event Mary, and you were the perfect Host.