Janet Rodney "from Orphydice"

City of the Long Spring

for Saman


by Janet Rodney


To be born
could be
just waking up
somewhere new

a northern plain's
first light
unknown & moving
under trees

ringing syllables
thru silence
of space,

tones of
another life, see
the eye
is fresh.


People in
the city of trees
rise like sap
spring's air
thru fragrance
(that shadow)
in her
standing in
a distant land.

She feels she
will not die
here now this
into place
incomplete afterall,
something ancient
paradox of bicycles
pedalling thru silk:

one thing to be,
another to
have been here,

voice within
past caring who
will find a life
here familiar

where word
might be mind
or memory
of another body.


Pedalling past a gate
at night,
no light
no answer
but the soft yield
of silence.


He opens his fan
& there
seasons change

people carrying
a red flag
march thru trees
artillery echoes
in the empty room

not a life
but lives
& charred fields
grow again

the City of the Long Spring
has no mountains
or river but trees
move above it
like the sea, deep
without bottom.


She would like
to seize bird's tail
& shifts weight
to left foot, allows
right heel to rise
turns left palm
right hand gliding up
to rest at abdomen:

holding a ball
of time, circle
for bird to fly in
live there awhile
should he wish
& also fly out --
there must be
she thinks
such freedom
in the heart where
birds can fly around,

of the idea
growing in her mind
of late,
it is now dark
on the other side
of the world
where she lives out
a destiny
& here the burden
is light, turns,
face-curve east
in the onrushing sun.


You were
a Red Guard
yet here you say

something about
your cart

comes to the mountain
& then you

see the way

how grass
grows over
a man's tracks,

every step
in itself
the desert or lake

you lept to cross.


Winds of change
come round again
light grenades the eye
smoke flowers in fields
clouds banner
above the lake,
the very lake
a socket
of dry rock.

Winds of change
come round again,
who would believe it,
et in Utopia ego.


Make no mistake
as time wears down
this body
new webs spin out
lay a trap
for the nectared
drone, wrap him
in delight

so the queen
grown fat
wonders what
happened to
that worker

-- if he fell
in the line of duty --
or if he
sank one afternoon
in decadence of roses,
buzz, pollen & sting
to the many-hearted


On the curb
waits to cross
stared at
mouths agape her
white skin red hair
surely a devil
far from home
not too close
for danger.

Even now
to follow
that turn of street
(is) actual:
broken stoneslab
step up
to the small door
she will walk thru.

That outline
of action
its pattern of green
long enough
to anchor

sway of trees/masts
revolving lure
of seaweed waves
poised as if to
dive thru
images in fever
in time
the moment is gone
full compass.


By chance
we meet
by chance

one face
into many.

In the quiet
of night
moon on

from Orphydice by Janet Rodney.

Copyright © 1986 by Janet Rodney.

Published by Marilyn Kitchell and Tom Bridwell's

Salt-Works Press
1803 Spring Canyon Road
Montrose, CO 81401

Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.