Robert Bly in Point Reyes Poems concludes with a piece called “The large starfish” which describes a nine-pointed starfish which slowly wraps itself around the speaker’s hand and after a while is returned to the tidal pool. In a small space, the conclusion in its punctuation not only reflects the elaborate description of the animal to which we have been previously a party but also lends an ephemeral note to the passage since it revolves through ellipsis, hyphen and comma (lots of changes) while noting that nothing has changed.
I put him back in … he unfolds — I had forgotten how purple he was — and slides down into his rock groin, the snail-like feelers waving as if nothing had happened, and nothing has.
The reader is abruptly yanked into the present by the change in tense. In seashore parlance we get wet as we walk along the perimeter between land and water. The syntax here reminds me of the image of an earlier piece “Sea water pouring back over stones” in Point Reyes Poems.
Waves rush up, pause, & drag pebbles back around stones … pebbles going out … it is a complicated sound, as of small sticks breaking, or kitchens heard from another house, good bodies turning over … then the wave comes down to the boulders, & draws out over the stones always wet, it is the gentleness of William Carlos Williams after his strokes …
The ellipses are Bly’s.
The movement from a description of wave action to a named person reminds me of a poem by Joy Kogawa collected in A Choice of Dreams which is entitled simply “Beach Poem”. As with Bly, we are immediately there. It begins …
Walking in warm knee deep water
Watching tiny waves inside of waves
And the speaker deeply absorbed is surprised.
The coming and going water pattern
And not seeing the round bald man
We are then treated to the image of the round bald man splashing, grinning and grunting “startlingly like a pig”. Which expression of joy prompts a moment of envy to conclude the poem.
And the water murky around him
And small pearly waters dripping
All around all around and I wish
I had a curly tail but sadly it is only forked.
The tone, to me, is wry. A little devilry in the round all around for the fork-tailed speaker has just produced the little marvel we have read.
And so for day 1115