Thursday, April 13, 2017

Found Light

Walking is the thread that connects up everything for me in this city.

Usually when I walk to Belle Isle, I come back through Oregon Hill on Pine Street. Today I wanted to walk Laurel instead for fresh views.

In front of just another house, I spotted one of those red-roofed wooden boxes with the clear front intended, usually at least, for real estate fliers about a house for sale. But this house had no for sale sign, so I looked at what was inside.

Poetry. There were several sheets of paper, each with a poem called "Forever Light" inside the box. But the real surprise was the poet's name because it was one familiar to me: Peter LaBerge, whom I'd just seen at a poetry reading at University of Richmond last Wednesday. If I'd stumbled on the box two weeks ago, the name would have meant nothing.

Standing on Laurel Street in the morning sunlight, I knew before reading it that the poem would be dark, elegiac even, and I wasn't wrong. You can learn a lot about a poet from one reading.

More alive
the body unit

Body made visible
after dawn.

Seconds of kissing
a man & I touching.

Body the gods decide 
should riverspin.

Arms and legs
invisible in seconds.

When I wake, a gun
nesting in my place.

Proof a man sunk
is a man inanimate.

Yet surely somewhere
dark there I am.

Chest disintegrating
lips: a feast of blue.

No skin to feed
the earth so I face up.

Bones green from a long
bed of moss.

Memory, a shorn path
through the forest.

Yet still regret is silver
and more silver.

Body beaming light
through the trees

It's Poetry Month, so perhaps Peter left the poems in the box for nerds like me who might appreciate poetry wherever we find it. Maybe he was simply curious whose eyes might alight on the box and investigate its contents. Walking is its own reward, but found poetry felt like a deliberate gift today.

Also a reminder - perhaps not to this young poet, but certainly to a body unit much older than Peter - that regret, silver or any color, is a waste of time and energy. Life's too short.

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