Recesses: A Really Dark Poem

 

 

Swamp public

I’m posting a poem here with a bit of hesitation.  It is a dark piece, and not at all representative of my writing.  I blame the darkness on my subconscious.  As readers of this blog may know, I grew up in challenging circumstances.  In a previous blog, A Burial, I refer to a grim episode in which several of my dogs were poisoned.  The family never discovered who poisoned the dogs.  Each poisoned pet had to be buried.  Since my father was absent, my older brother took charge, as he often did.

It was winter, and the ground was frozen.  My brother was obliged to improvise.  He found a bog, deep in the forest, in which the deceased animals’ bodies could be dispatched.  The mud would absorb whatever was thrown onto it.  This constituted a sort of burial, the best he could manage.

Years later, when I began to write, I searched my mind for inspiration.  The poem posted below came to me, almost in an unbroken stream.  There’s little doubt I was healing an old wound.  In the poem I imagine a murder, in a swamp, but this time the murderer doesn’t get away.  My subconscious metes out a rough justice.

Here’s the poem.  Beware: It is dark.

 

Recesses

In the rustle of the swamp reeds

In the ceaseless crackling clamor

Of the swamp’s pursuers and pursued

A very careful and interested listener

Might have heard

The faintest sigh

An expiration of breath

Blended casually and perfectly

With the flow of generation and degeneration

So its individuality

Its particularity

Was lost

 

No one heralded its passing

Except the swamp’s general chorus

Of insect and animal activity

Which signaled without prejudice

The birth and demise of multitudinous creatures

 

In the wetness of the earth

In the dark and malodorous puddles

Seeping through an eternity of swamp grass

The smallest rivulet of blood tinted the ground

Blended with greater streams and

Became indistinguishable

From the enveloping deepness of their color

 

Through tangled trees and weeping weeds

He fled

The mute rebuke of her still presence

Propelling him

The hours since he killed

Darkened the earth

Until night dwellers rose from their nests

And joined the uncensoring cacophony

 

He knew this dense and murky world

It would have granted him a bed

Had he stopped

He could not

Panicked by the specter of her face

He pressed on

Past the creeping oozing things

The silent crawling essences in the mud

 

He was wet

From his excretions

From excretions of soil and plant

His shoes heavy with moisture

His clothes clammy

He became as like the swamp as he could ever be

And it became less a friend to him

He who confided in the swamp

Discovered its treachery

 

He was lost

The absolving obscurity which had drawn him

To commit this deed

Ordained his destruction

 

The first rays of sunrise did not penetrate

To the depths of the swamp’s floor

Rather they gradually colored the dense undergrowth

And muddy pools of its recesses

Only moments before those traces of color appeared

He fell

 

His body slumped to earth

Perhaps his head hit a rock

Or an exhausted vessel hemorrhaged

A rivulet of blood

Tinted the ground

Blended with greater streams and

Became indistinguishable

From the enveloping deepness of their color

 

In the depths of a wild and immense swamp

Amidst the hawing and cawing

Of embattled entities

One predator and his prey

Rested

The swamp protected the secret of its protégé

And with the force of irresistible passivity

Received the final traces of his crime

Into the fabric of its all absorbing life

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