Sitting in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a treat. It is like sitting in a restaurant waiting for the dish to be served up. One delicious item is Autumnal by Thomas Meyer published by Catalyst in 1975. The poem is laid out in a four-folded sheet. The cover is a photo of the poet we assume. The back contains a simple colophon “published 1975 by catalyst” following the bottom border of the page. Inside the left page is blank, the right page has the poem set in two columns and the signature “Tom Meyer”. We appear to have in our hands a pastiche of a greeting card.
And the poetry? Exquisite.
Meyer is the master of the short line as evidenced in his books such as Uranian roses or Staves calends legends. Here at the heart of this one-pager is an image of a detail familiar to anyone who has prepared leeks. Startling however is the leap to an image of rain and wet hair (unless one is alert to an unstated suggestion of homophones: leek/leak).
What is remarkable is how the scene unfolds from the mention of detail. Note how the poet begins with the grit and comes to name the vegetable last. Likewise we are led from rain to hair via the position of the hand. The “news” item is always last and lingering.
|deep in white|
|a gentle rain has begun|
|to remind me of him|
The poem ends with the image of the speaker’s hand in the beloved’s “wet August hair”. Or at least tone and style set this in the erotic mode and we believe we are presented with an image of the beloved.
And so for day 1121