Jul/Aug 2007 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Ray Templeton

Photography by Kawika Chetron

At the Memorial

The earth, at least, remembers
years of lotus, flowering cherry,
lily, geranium, and how to guard them,

as deeper, it shelters fragments—
pelvis, thighbone, skull—from days
of forgotten innocence.

This land had powers
to resist forever, nature's assault—
the sudden squall, the deluge,

even the typhoon. But never this.
They talked in different colours:
one's blue flash, another's white magnesium flare,

a yellow like pale lightning.
The black rain, everybody saw.
One told of the way he seemed to fly,

like he'd found himself in weightless space,
lifted as if he'd learned to levitate.
But this was no illusion, no catchpenny trick,

although it turned clothes into rags,
windows into weapons, walls to gravel,
and made flesh over into shadow.


How to Decide

There's no spell, no arcane charm,
no potion of midnight herbs, stirred
with rainwater in a sheep-skull,
no fasting, physical workout,
digital manipulation
or tricky camera angles.

And there's no instruction booklet
you can file away with
"Vanishing for Beginners,"
or "Teach Yourself to Levitate."
It's not like mastering chess,
or grandmother's recipes
for nettle poultice and geranium tea,
her tortuous instructions
for predicting snowfall or summer squall.

You don't have to scribble
on a dotted line, or put up
with somebody else's "Follow me...
this way to the light."
But maybe there's some skill to it,
and there are ingredients, like
free will and an open mind
(poetry and music
are also known to help).
And even at your age,
its not too late to learn.


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