Friday, May 22, 2015

The Sound of Sugar....Joel Long

Let The Living Return To The Sea

Last night we watched a baby octopus
on video with a child. It had washed
ashore the border of tide, white water
the water’s distance from air. Living thing
moved a line of coral foam, undulating
tentacled legs, water retreating to its mouth,
gliding its spectral torso over glazed sand.

We come to this town to bury the dead,
but dinner, we hear two births will come,
and the dead take turns at quiet instead.
There are photos, printouts from ultrasounds—
mothers and mothers to be for the first
pass images around the table. One niece
has a baby inside that could be an octopus,
bulge of light rounding like a head—it is a head—
a shadow that will be eyes, but the hands
wave flippers in ink and legs like a tail
in the gray sea, the precise hope for fingers,
toes, and bones. The miracle brain inside
space the size of a pearl begins to steam,
begins the vision.

The other niece is showing,
stomach swelling beneath her blue dress,
the child inside her with limbs, hands already
brought to its mouth, a face becoming its face,
one of us. In the photo, we see ribs, translucent
skin over ribs, hips hiding—we will know
in weeks, she, he, sex blooming the waters.

Another child has been watching the octopus,
has put on the mask of a monster, climbs the back
of Auntie’s chair, his red hair no brighter than fire
he puts into space. He knows the small thing
in the darkness comes for him, sister, brother,
love, this self coming, sacred book illustrated
by the monk who studies shells and moth wings,
saints and all their signs, angel, bird, ox, and lion,

and we know the cells find their way to hair,
fingernails, eyes that change the muted world
into forests inside the brain, octopus pulled
back into the entire sea by wave, pulsing heart
of all water, drawing it inside, pushing against it,
propelling its body through distance that lasts,

the bright coral, clown fish, eels, above water,
sky wrapped around the globe and the mind
that writes it all down in grief, in joy, Being
itself, brief and infinite, raspberry, sparrow.

About the Poet:
Joel Long’s book Lessons in Disappearance was published in 2012. Knowing Time by Light was published by Blaine Creek Press in 2010. His book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and was published in 1999. His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published from Elik Press. His poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Ocean State Review, Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Bellingham Review, Sou’wester, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Po­ems and Plays, and Seattle Review, and anthologized in American Poetry: the Next Generation, Essential Love, Fresh Water, and I Go to the Ruined Place. He received the Mayor’s Artist Award for Literary Arts at the Utah Arts Festival and the Writers Advocate Award from Writers at Work.

About the Sound of Sugar:
We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it. 

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