Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SMALLISH SON, by HAYDEN CARRUTH

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SMALLISH SON, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: A small voice is fretting my house in the night
Last Line: And if you do not find them, turn away
Subject(s): Books; Sons; Reading

A small voice is fretting my house in the night,
a small heart is there. . .
I who have dwelt at the root of a scream forever,
I who have read my heart like a man with no hands
reading a book whose pages turn in the wind,
I say listen, listen, hear me
in our dreamless dark, my dear. I can teach you complaining.
My father, being wise, knowing the best rebellion is at forty,
told me to wait; but when he was sixty
he had nothing to say. Then do not wait.
Could I too not tell you much of a young man's folly?
But you will learn. When you play at strife-of-the-eyes
with existence, staring at the fluorescent moon to see
which of you will go under, please, please
be the first to smile. Do not harden yourself
though it means surrendering all, turning yourself out
to be known at the world's mercy. You will lose your name,
you will not know the curious shape of your coat,
even the words you breathe, spoken out so clearly,
will loosen and disperse forever, all given over
to the wind crying upon distant seas. Moment of horror:
the moonlight will name you, a profile among fallen flowers.
Yet you may survive, for many have done so. You need
only to close your eyes, beautiful feminine gesture;
and do not be afraid of the strange woman you find
lying in the chamber of your throat. When a silver bird
strikes at the shutters of your eyes with his wings
admit him, do not attempt to tame him, but as he swoops
in the tall glimmer of your intricate room
admire his freedom; and when a silver mouse
scurries twittering through the passageways of your blood
consider his beauty. So it will be: dark, a long vigil,
far among splendors of despair, this creation
in the closed eye. Everything will be true, pure,
your love most of all, and your flesh in the drunkenness
of becoming a dream. Lingering among the revenants
who still bear your name, touching and kissing,
dancing among their tatters of skin and splintered bones,
noticing the song of the tomb, how it soars in dream,
you in your sovereignty condescending to song,
permitting your myth -- what awareness then, what ecstasies
in the shimmering dark pool, what marvels of the dark stair!
But now, please open your eyes again. Have we not said
down with all tyrants, even our own? Especially our own!
Open your eyes; they will glitter from long sleep
with the knowledge of the other side of the world.
Their light then will be of such a quiet intensity
that smiles and frowns will fall away like shadows
of wild birds flying over. No complicity, no acquiescence;
and yet a degree of affection remaining, as when one finds
an old bible in an old cupboard of an empty house.
So it is, so, freedom and beauty. Do not be modest,
wear the delicate beauty of those crippled at birth
who earn the grace of their maiming. Do not be afraid,
assume the freedom of those born in their captivity
who earn the purity of their being. All one and all many,
but remember, never the two alone, falsely dividing
in the mind's paralyzed divorce. This is our meaning
under our true rebellion, this is the dark where we
may venture without our dreams. In the dreamless dark
where I await you, the dark light of my eyes
may still be darkly burning when you come.
You must look and you must seek
for my eyes will answer but I think they will not summon.
And if you do not find them, turn away.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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