And so I lay, waiting: a single flame felting the darkness.Dawn, they tell us, breaks. It breaks.
Your voice came into me, then, like music. My lips,your brow, your temple: how you called me
to the edge of myself.Did I choose? I chose.
Sharp flutter in the feral trees: your voicelifting in me like the wind, your touch
breaking through me like rain,like sunlight. And the rain
falling in the silence behind the broken wind. O riverof kisses. O dance of the heart on the skin. (“ENVOY: SEVEN VARIATIONS”)
Over nearly a dozen collections of poetry, Quadra Island, British Columbia poet, musician and philosopher Jan Zwicky has excelled at the small moments, writing meditative poems constructed around philosophy and musical composition, and her newest collection, Forge (Kentville NS: Gaspereau Press, 2011), continues her examination of slow movement. Along the lines of other writers such as Erin Mouré, Phil Hall and Anne Carson, Zwicky’s poems are best when composed as small essays on subjects so large they become philosophical, from her Governor-General’s Award-winning Songsfor Relinquishing the Earth (Brick Books, 1999) and Thirty-SevenSmall Songs and Thirteen Silences (Gaspereau Press, 2005). In Forge, she writes poems-as-variations, referencing Schubert, Hölderlin and Bach as well as variations on music, including vespers, love songs, silence and sarabande. These are poems, as the title suggests, hammered out over an extended period, or perhaps, instead, poems that require a push of the breath, foot-pedal pushing each meditative line into sequence.
OUT WALKING, THINKING ABOUTTHE SOUND OF THE VIOL
It’s a blue sky today, iceon the step. In the woods,the beech tree is turning; two branches,the rest still green. Its leavesare stiff and supple, a finestarched leather, more burntthan tanned. What amazes most,though, is the colour: its evennessuncanny; shy, sinewy, a shadeour mothers might deemserviceable in a shirt or coat, in isolationunremarkable. Yet leaf against leaf,branch on branch, that spare bronzeflares: voicelessand articulate, cleanspoken through.