Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Green Lake

Bark beetles derange the Elms,
Thickening the path with leaf rot.
Naked limbs of Ash, stripped by downy mildew,
tap coded insults
on the cottage roof.
Inside, albino spiders
sentry the walls
with mazes of webs.
Here, miles from Wayzata,
we make love on the bed you have loved on before.
We sleep
and in your dream
she walks the beach,
tempting the tide to take her.
billowing with a passion
that is not her own,
she becomes the wave,
through the engorged channel
toward the cabin,
licking the edges,
nipping the trusses.
When we wake,
the air is dank
with her name.
It seeps between the eaves,
through the floorboards,
driving us outside.
It is too cold to swim
and every direction we walk,
the wind is against us.
In another place,
the day will be warm
and the evening full.
We will have cool drinks
and sit on a porch
listening to crickets, who,
only when the heat
is most intense,
sing of love.
© 2009 by Kathryn Feigal. All rights reserved. 

I studied poetry with Mark Strand at the University of Utah. This is one of the poems I wrote in his workshop.
(see some of his poetry here)

Mark StrandMark Strand was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada. His collections of poems include: Dark Harbor (1993), The Continuous Life (1990), Selected Poems (1980), The Late Hour (1978), The Story of our Lives (1973), The Sargentville Notebook (1973), Darker (1970), Reasons For Moving (1968), and Sleeping With One Eye Open (1964). He has also published a book of prose, entitled The Monument (1978). His books on artists include William Bailey (1987) and Hopper (1994). His translations include two volumes of the poems of Carlos Drummond de Andrade. He has also published three books for children. He has been the recipient of Fellowships from the Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim Foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (1979), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award (1987), the Bollingen Prize (1993), and has served as Poet Laureate of the United States (1990). He is currently the Elliott Coleman Professor of Poetry in the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins.
(translation into German from an earlier draft)
Grün See
Du bringst mir zu Grün See,
wo du in frührern Sommern
mit eine andern Frau gewohnt hast.
Der dunkele Himmel liegt schwer auf uns
wie eine muffige Wolldecke
bedeckt mit Hülse vergangenen Lebens.
Borkekäferen zerrütten die Ulme
und Netzen von Blattfäulnis,
den Weg verdickend.
Auf dem Hüttendach, klopfen Nackte Lindenäste
ihre Beleidigungen heraus.
Drinnen, albino Spinnen mit labyrinthischen Geweben,
bewachen die Wände.
Hier, Meilen von der Welt entfernt,
erfüllten wir die gegenseitige Sehnsucht
an dem selben Bett,
wo du mit ihr gelegen hattest.
In deinem Schlaf,
schlendert sie den Strand entlang,
und fordernt die Wellen,
sie hinunter zu ziehen.
Mit fremder wogender Leidenschaft
verwandelte sie sich
in eine Mächtige Welle.
Die Welle Wälzt ihre Fluten dir zu,
wo du liegst, voller Sehnsuchts
um ein Überfluss Wasser.
Die kursierte durch deinen Leib
erreichte die Hütte beleckend
die Klinke versuchend.
Als wir aufwachen hat sich
der Himmel seine Enttäuschung entladen,
und der See murmelt seufzend.
Zum Schwimmen ist's zu kalt
und in jeder Richtung ist
der Wind gagen uns.
Ich verlange von der Luft,
sich zu verzehren
verbrannt zu werden.
Ich will, dass die Liebesperlen meine Wunde heilen.
In noch einem Ort, zu noch einer Zeit 
wird der Tag bequem sein
und der Abend befriedigend.
Wir werden kühle Getränke schlürfen
und an die Veranda sitzen,
die Grille zu hören
als sie in der wärmende Luft
von Liebe singen.
© 2009 by Kathryn Feigal. All rights reserved. 


  1. It's a fine poem with a powerful sense of place and occasion. I would leave 'Here, miles from Wayzata' exactly where it is. Then the vivid metaphors set the scene and the poem changes gear and moves into a different register with the identification of location.

  2. Thanks for commenting on my blog. If you hadn't I wouldn't have found your blog and this poem. I especially love the first 9 lines and would like it as a poem in itself. The rest stands alone too and works for me.

    I like Mark Strand's poetry. In fact, I made a wall quilt to illustrate his lines about the dog they call spot who looks at the great starfields. Great poets are simply human, he may have a personal hang up about menses, many men do -- positive and negative.

  3. The poem is very rich and vibrant. I'm not sure why you want any suggestions, but here is my take, since you're asking. I like "Here....just where it is because it gives the reader a little more drama. I don't know where you are until I read that line.
    Since the ending is "in another place" perhaps, if you want to make a change or addition, you could state "in this place" or something along that line as the first line.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I reposted the picture.

  4. I love the poem how it is. I love the form. I like the title that tells me where you're starting out. I love the words "derange" and "leaf rot" in the first lines. They paint vivid pictures and moods. Then you take me along that path and bring me to a cottage roof. Nice. I like the "miles from . . ." here because it fits with the travel from the path of beetles to your cottage, which is miles from civilization (don't know what Wayzata is, but you give the impression that you are "miles from" any place). Vivid thoughts of the other woman that go through your mind. Like the personification of her as a wave, seeping between the cracks, always there. Reminds us readers of how whoever was in a house before us leaves something of themselves and we can sense it. I love how you start the poem out with dark and dank images and end it with bright, warm images . . . and you start and end with a bug. Only whereas you started with an unwelcome "deranged" beetle who adds to the rot around you, you end with a welcome cricket who sings of love. Very nice.


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