Iris Orpi - 5 Poems

January 17th, 2017 by admin

Like wings,
the reclaiming of the dark hours
arches across the rosy-eyed lull
of not knowing,
plumed in possibility
and iridescent visions,
flourishes of sacred geometry
stirring what once felt like
the night would go on without end.
There’s a sweet pain in awakening.
The voice of half-hearted
reckoning of day’s peak
catching on a sob
for the unfinished,
or for the beloved dreaming
that got defaced by the truth.
The inert limbs slowly embracing
a suffusion of fire.
There is that moment in turning
from what had once meant something
towards what is promised,
when the squaring of shoulders
exposes the symmetry of sound
catching up with the light,
imperfect form flanked
by efforts of divinity
to concede that it might
have been too dismissive of wisdom
coursed through the flesh.
It stretches behind you like wings.
Flight is nothing but the feeling
that touches you when
the sky becomes right-side up
and comes into view.  
Sometimes we turn to the darkness
as we stand on the edge
of oncoming, anticipated light
not because it is preferable
or necessary, but because
it comforts and gives a sense
of belonging to the things we carry
and wonder if they have a place
among the changes that are coming.
We mourn all deaths,
even those of what had never been
good for us, those that had been
slowly killing us the whole time.
Realizing they are lost to us
after all the pain of coming
to terms with their presence
and the makeshift beauty
we’ve contrived from the ways
they had made us suffer is
a fear and a melancholy of its own,
and a guilt too, almost
for a time outweighing our relief
for not having to suffer anymore.
Like the passing of a hero,
or the need for one,
making us again ordinary
and searching for the next
difficult thing to live for
so we could feel keenly alive.
When they call it self-preservation
we think about staying the same.
And then we call it a loss,
shedding the things that only
weigh us down. But to live
is to not drown, and at some point
we realize we are surrounded
by water. We get high on breathing
because the perilous tide outside
us is made of the same stuff
as the part liquid our spirits are.
We forget that we are souls
that have bodies. Our intimacy
with gravity and falling belies
how majestically we can rise  
without denouncing the ground.  
Salt and Aquamarine
And there you were,
the blue hour draped around you
like a shawl and all your
motivations a little disheveled.
The benign hush that
assumes the shapes of
what could have been overcome
blames nothing,
not even circumstance.
Some epiphanies are like
sea glass: broken
from a forgotten whole,
lost in rarely charted waters,
and with edges worn off by waves
that arch like the wings of fate.
It’s hard to tell from looking at you
where you really started.
You are part shipwreck
and part sunken treasure,
foggy and turquoise
and mystifying.
No one thinks less of a jewel for
forgoing a little clarity
for a few nights at sea,
for coming in to possession
of a thousand questions.
They make a pretty pattern,
hanging from your neck like amulets
and bringing out the depth
of passion in your eyes.
Nobody ever told you,
and they couldn’t even if they knew,
the birth you gave was going
to require a daily reimagining
of your own needs.
Every night a different sky.
It’s something you realize for yourself
when you find that the sun
rises on your right shoulder
while your love prefers
to weep on your left.
And the shawl of blue hour
fades into a night that hides you,
hides your rough places
without questioning.
It is kind to you because it
recognizes the way you gaze
at love: as if you expect to drown
and are giving it instructions
to collect your pieces
along the shore.  
Tricks of Transcendence
Towards that beauty
we sail, half-mast
in dignified mourning
for the safe shore we
turned our backs on,
on freedom that comes in waves
and an innate promise that
sometimes lies about distances
and tastes like saltwater.  
Somewhere, a part of us knew
that the days we were burning
would be the past of a life
that was coming. A time merely
to look back on, and love,
the way we understood it then,
would glimmer like beads of dew
in the wide open daylight of
what the future that arrived
revealed to us about ourselves.
That the stories we repeated,
raw and unresolved, over smoke
and expensive noise, would
later be just one of many filters
to a vision, and we would be
watching this world with
our hearts pulled in a direction
for reasons we cannot enunciate.  
We still believe in what was
promised us back in the days
when there was no past
to lament, no stubborn mistakes
that stick to our perceptions
like paint on silk. We ask all
these illuminated questions
not because the answers
would redeem us, although
they do, but because all things
are bound to one another
and it’s how we get reminded
that we speak the language
of the universe that we are
certain is listening.  
And towards that point
where the light gathers,
we faithfully make our way,
stumbling, the way untrained
faith sometimes stumbles,
taking it upon ourselves
to chase a bliss that someone
once told us we were worthy of,
that we would never have
believed otherwise, if it were
something we merely wanted
instead of a prophecy waiting  
to be claimed.  
Bequests from the Departed Light
It’s not the poems the stars write
that give the night its soul
not the light the moon
borrows from the sun
or the breath of silence
stirring between the trees  
it’s a fragment of the blue
coaxed from the heaving tides
from passion’s forgotten oceans
and remembering having once
craved for rest when all
the city could spare
was a lonely furnished room
lit with your tamed vices  
it’s the texture of that moment
when it came up in conversation
with a trusted friend
how best to spend the small hours
trapped between your skin
and the fire that claims
to be the estranged daughter
of the song no one else but you
could hear.
  Bio:  Iris Orpi is the author of the illustrated novel, The Espresso Effect (2010), and two books of collected poems, Beautiful Fever (2012) and Cognac for the Soul (2012). She was an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Contemporary American Poetry Prize given by the Chicago Poetry Press.

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