This Poem was Submitted By: G. Donald Cribbs On Date: 2004-07-11 20:57:31 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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The Grief of the Return

Far away I hear the wind pressing nearer, the corners of the house begin to buckle in, ashamed. I climb inside the dusky words of a book unclaimed for all the dim years past, becoming clearer. On those dark pages no one writes what is missing and I cannot wait for this grieving to make sense, the beaten child hunches over, tangled in the fence; at length, his shadow distended by dark waters, fishing. The windows have eyes facing ever inward, staring down shadows at all these dark places,  panes shudder, rattling in their frame cages at the lost things, a boy I unearth from pinewood. Unlidded, my eyes clamp shut, against murky depths laid open, his stare long saddened by rejection, the death I gave him refusing the question, whose guilt I now bear like an old hermit, unkempt. Underneath, floorboards groan, creak with the great weight I gather around my body, a storm approaches, raging along the horizon, tossing inlanded seagulls, waging unwieldy fielded currents, worms strung on hooks like bait. The boy brings bruises back into the house, deep wounds surfaced by winds and new rain.  He climbs into my lap and holds me quietly for long moments like a clap of thunder rumbling up from darkened and muddy ground. The light switches refuse to stay turned down they throw light all over the house, pressing darkness down into the cellar like an uneasy calmness numbing our bodies to sleep, or else be found, knowing what we have become, the wizened hermit and the boy undone, by a life lost in stasis, the way we allow shame to create the basis for the storm to rise, lifting the shadow into respite.

Copyright © July 2004 G. Donald Cribbs

Additional Notes:
I modeled this one after James Wright's, "The Quest" to break out of a season of writer's block.

This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-07-31 13:09:11
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Don: Readers may connect this fine poem with your others, or be released with its images into the landscape of their own childhoods. It is dense with images and darker colors; rhyme and cadence are exquisitely well-crafted. The sorrow is immense, the poem anguished and yet glorious at its conclusion. Far away I hear the wind pressing nearer, the corners of the house begin to buckle in, ashamed. What an immensely powerful metaphor here-- as if the very foundations of the house are weakened by their knowledge of what has transpired; they are "ashamed" of their inability to protect the boy. I climb inside the dusky words of a book unclaimed for all the dim years past, becoming clearer. On those dark pages no one writes what is missing and I cannot wait for this grieving to make sense, the beaten child hunches over, tangled in the fence; at length, his shadow distended by dark waters, fishing. In this first stanza, I became aware of the narrator's seeking within the "dusty words of a book unclaimed" a minute opening, within which he might find a great freedom, in which all of the "dim years past" might become clearer. But he is still detained, as if by razored-wire of a prison compound, until he becomes 'unearthed' and lifted by the storm to come. The windows have eyes facing ever inward, staring down shadows at all these dark places, panes shudder, rattling in their frame cages at the lost things, a boy I unearth from pinewood. (As if the boy has been 'buried alive'!) Unlidded, my eyes clamp shut, against murky depths laid open, his stare long saddened by rejection, the death I gave him refusing the question, whose guilt I now bear like an old hermit, unkempt. Sounds within this piece add greatly to its emotional impact, For example, the 'uh' utterances, are very like the 'uh!' one utters at a blow to the belly: "dusky/unclaimed/hunches/shudder/ unlidded/shut/unkempt/underneath/strung/unwieldy/uneasy/numbing/thunder/rumbling/muddy" for example. Underneath, floorboards groan, creak with the great weight I gather around my body, a storm approaches, raging along the horizon, tossing inlanded seagulls, waging unwieldy fielded currents, "worms strung on hooks" like bait. (recurrent theme within the series) The boy brings bruises back into the house, deep wounds surfaced by winds and new rain. He climbs into my lap and holds me quietly for long moments like a clap of thunder rumbling up from darkened and muddy ground. The light switches refuse to stay turned down --as if a poltergeist or noisy ghost is about the house they throw light all over the house, pressing darkness down into the cellar like an uneasy calmness numbing our bodies to sleep, or else be found, --the numbing of dissociation? knowing what we have become, the wizened hermit and the boy undone, by a life lost in stasis, the way we allow shame to create the basis for the storm to rise, lifting the shadow into respite. It is as if the opening created by the storm allows for the expression of the boy's humiliation, unfulfilled needs and sorrow, letting the light of the soul shine once more. What was once subsumed by the other is now released - the "shadow" is lifted. I am not familiar with James Wright's work, but will make its acquaintance because of this poem. You write in your additional notes that this arose out of a season of 'writer's block' - may I add that the energy simmering below the surface, allowing frustration to build, gave rise to the excellent poem you have offered your readership. May we all be encouraged that no matter how difficult the events in life, nor how long it takes us to rally or to express that which matters most, with perseverance and role-models who light the way (as I believe you do for us, and James Wright has done for you) nothing is lost. Magnificently done! Bravo! All my best, Joanne

This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2004-07-17 19:50:25
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Bravo, I wish my block would be so gone as yours is now..... This is well done my friend. Outstanding images abound, emotions fill the lines seeking attention. Good structure, nice word flow thank you for posting and sharing with us and to this reader it will certainly be on her list of favorites. Be safe, God bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Wayne R. Leach On Date: 2004-07-16 20:55:44
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
And, I would say, the block is gone. This is one nice poem - such powerful and picturesque similes, and assonance superbly crafted. Outstanding images abound, emotions cry out for attention. What else could a reader desire? The true and slant rhymes of the nicely formed stanzas are well done, too. I see no way I could improve on this one. It should do very well this month, Don. Bravo!
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2004-07-13 18:01:25
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Don: I have been carrying a copy of "The Grief" for two days, hoping I would comprehend more fully by the process of osmosis. During the time I communed with your poem, I searched for "The Quest" with no luck. Have you ever moved while infirm and most of your possessions are books? I hope not for you'll never find the fare you want when wanted. I did get further acquainted with Wright by finding a number of his poems in anthologies. I think everyone knows "Lying in a Hammock" and it holds up well with time, IMO. One simply cannot surpass that last line of his! Sorry, I divagate. Your poem is wonderfully constructed which is part of its charm. The pacing, rhythm, end rhymes (especially the slant rhymes), similes, metaphoric phrases...I could easely delineate your poetics for a lengthy critique. The tone is noir by use of words such as dusky, dim, grieving, shadow, dark, shudder, and so forth and it seems endless, these terms, making the (this) reader more melancholy with each line. This sadness seems to emanate from poet/ speaker as well. I have no suggestions for improvement so I shall cite the bits I especially like. "...begin to buckle in, ashamed." & "his shadow distended by dark waters..." & "staring down shadows". You use "shadow" twice within three lines so you might change to "penumbral places, etc, etc." Very picky detail. "...Tossing inland seagulls" & my favorite "waging unwieldy fielded currents". The "B" allits in the next line are notably effective. The denouement begins with the first line of stanza 4 and the epiphany comes with line 4, the epistemology of life itself or certainly that of the speaker. "A life lost in stasis" will stay with me, Don; that is a unique, marvelous turn of phrase. I enjoyed this enormously and envy your talent to come out of "a season of writer's block" with this accomplishment. It will be on my wee list (I rarely have much v.p.) and rather than heaping more encomium, I shall say: Bravo! Best wishes, Mell Morris
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