Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Under an Anonymous Sky

The following poem was a finalist for the Iowa Award in Poetry in 2004. It has been submitted a few times since, and was rejected by The Sycamore Review today. In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm giving it away!

Under an Anonymous Sky

The evening becomes evening.

but I am leaving the shore
in my skin boat

the earth opened and a dwarf popped out.

He is afraid of the stares of men, which are too quick and piercing for him, and he retreats into the sky like a string of colors.
His toes are made of crystal, so he can hide them, and the boys could not find them.

It should be explained that they were taking the head to show to the others.
So it thought, and it said, “I will turn into the moon.”
It called, “Open the doors, I want to get my things.”
The head cried.  It called out, “At least give me
my two balls of twine.”
The men shouted, “You going to the sky, head?”
It didn’t answer.

After that a marvelous thing.

snow snow
rain rain
never mind

I hope to God it rains and snows

I greet you, white morning,

take me, take me with you, take me

Selected from W. S. Merwin’s translations, 1948-1968. Excerpts taken in the following order from Song for the Dead: Roumanian Anonymous folk Poem; Into my Head Rose: Anonymous Eskimo; Ichi the Dwarf: Anonymous Quechuan Peru; The Rainbow: Anonymous Quechuan Peru (nonadjacent fragments assembled together); The Creation of the Moon: Anonymous Caxinua Amazon (nonadjacent fragments assembled together); The Glory of Taliesin: Anonymous, Welsh circa 6th century; Swallow: Greek, Anonymous; Maido: Anonymous, Greek, modern ballad collection; The Song of Cellach: Anonymous, Irish, 12th century; Song of Exile: Anonymous, Greek, modern ballad collection.