Susan M. Schultz
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Poetry by Michael Snediker

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Philosopher’s Window

for A.G.

 

Massachusetts Aschenbach,

there is no

dying, just

 

memory/                      its pursuit.

 

What we

desired was/

remembering

one’s desires

 

which were      remembering

if only one

 

could just

remember/

that sea

 

on which we look

beyond its metaphor

 

or if/

 

there were

some figure passing                metaphor—

 

not literal,

not salt nor

horizon/ shore

 

nor salt nor navigation

nor pull

of tides

 

nor shore, likewise

not standing for allegory’s

impasse.

 

We weren’t sailing,

not yet our being ferried

 

in imminent season. We

watched

 

the sea that was

a sea/

 

seabirds becoming birds. Were

moored in landscapes lacking

 

no pathos

 

in feeling

 

tautological, even

in not knowing just

 

what the sea

became.

 

Ferrying, May winds moving

 

our winter hair

as systole/ diastole

 

or were we doves,

olive branch

in infant beakbone/

 

as for

dear life.

 

Caught, were doves/ a memory,

 

was the memory,

like seabirds, of dove,

 

did we remember

branches, dearly caught,

 

consolingly

without contour— the wind,

 

a flutter

of wings.

Soon there will be ferrying,

soon ferry-cross

 

what was and wasn’t

lyrical,

 

the impasse, as you say, its own

 

meticulous realism. Exquisite

 

and ethical

penury, extravagance

 

exceeding

itself in attempting form.

 

Sapient, ever sapient, loving genius presides

like limbs, like

 

phantom limbs, is this real,

 

its flicker, suncome fleeting

and assured, ever graced;

 

do we remember this,

systole of so many beating hearts

 

it seemed a shore,

 

you who might desire less

a youth, than

memory of our youths, passing

 

spry cordage, shore’s point

of vanish. But now

 

draw in your head, alone

and too tall here,

 

your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam—

they do not ask

 

who seizes fast to them, puff and deline

of pendant arch.

 

 

___________________________________________________________

 

Michael D Snediker is the author of Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions (UMinnesota, 2009). His articles on American Literature, poetics, and queer theory have appeared in journals including ELH, Modernism/modernity, and Postmodern Culture. His poetry book, Nervous Pastoral, was published by dove|tail press in 2008, and his poetry chapbook, Bourdon, is forthcoming from White Rabbit Press. He currently is working on a project titled Contingent Figure: Aesthetic Disabling and the Long American Renaissance. He teaches at Queen’s University, in Kingston, ON.