in response to Linda Ronstadt singing Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou”
alongside a Dag Hol painting of Reine, Lofoten, when unfinished
I am sorry you had to leave Reine
You could not stay with me, a middle-aged
woman of the fjord, who from birth has never left
her hamlet, living here on a shore at the base
of this jagged new mountain, where fresh clouds are not stroked up,
but come and go, where stars, the moon, and snow counter
winter noon when the thousands, like you, have come and gone–
to a world where imaginary replicas of my psyche get studied
in cozy jet-set universities. You cannot see me now so far away
from you. And I would not enter your red-bottomed oil.
A chasm’s mantra wall of molten marble would have come
between me and my focus. Nor could seafarers coax
me into their crafts, with bottoms only the painted-on lipstick red
of waiting souls and bodies–how ships and art take on
their captains’ fantasies, cool vessels that calmly fall off the far
edge of the earth and its realities each day.
Here in the great North, the world funnels up, small enough
for any traveller’s vision to fit, and like fluid brick all fit
together. So I would not go into Reine for the proceedings
when my mother died. My red lava feet would have chilled
to pipegray. My steps would have become watery, then airy with
a summer’s skyblue, my head following ghosts through openings
in clouds. My shoes would be like yours, permanently separated
from the blood. Look at them. You cannot have your molten feet back:
how you look for the crescent moon, the way you think it chases–
then waits on–some circling midnight sun for light. I remain here
and real, not art nor a paragraph like you seem to want to be.
Ask yourself how far away must a midnight sun be to leave the crescent
on the sky. It is not on the horizon. We will never get there.
October 8, 2006
note: for “Reine” say “RAY-neh”