Three poems from Dan Edelstein, winner of the William
Carlos Williams Prize, 2001


Occean

the sea-side speaks of changes, say it
like it isn't - you are my only
love under the sun, say it like
it is. At low-tide we are the only
ones to walk the road high-tide leaves
under the sea, on stems once standing
that now lie limp out of the water.
Gurgles all around us sound, as water
rustles underfoot, running after the tide.
The sea-side speaks: short slate shore-cliffs
still show the names, dates, plusses, and
hearts of others before us, wanting
to be known by others than the tide to come
to hide them. But you and I don't speak -
you've gone to watch a crab crawl, caught
in a beach-pool - I, a boat, stranded
capsized on the sand: two of the same,
mirror-images of all that's left
of a land of water. We are, you and I,
unearthing some lost continent, Atlan-
tis of water changed to sand, hardly
imaginable. A flood, a thing un-
iversally told of, from Sumer
and the Amazon to recent China -
apocalypse with a hidden apo-
thecary in the loss:

                          A field of high grass,
yes, like the one above the cliff
behind us, standing and waving, is drenched
in sunlight's showers - suddenly, eclipsed
by stormy hills in the sky: layers
of water bury grass, roofs, trees,
cliffs in mountains of water, as
the world is drained away?
                                            but the sea speaks so that we remember only
the meter when it's gone, the matter
changed into familiar
sounds and patterns on the slate at the
sea-floor. That is the pharmacy
of the flood: learning to lose what's lost
and to forget it's gone, cleaning
imagination clear and the beaches
of old footsteps, the mind is a moon
calling the tides.
                          I run over water
to reach your waist and to embrace you,
your face is the only hour I know,
we kiss and our knees knock to and fro,
standing, waving, postdiluvian,
inside a mountain of tall blue sky.



Way of Life

go gentle into the night,
it's good, right? Goodnight,
whoever was afraid
of sleep - no bad dreams
if you sleep tight.
Each night I go away
a little, or do I go
by day? The sleep we lose
for fear of what's just
like sleep, minus dreams?

But there's no deep end in
the dark, dark that isn't
really the dark, only what's
not to see. The world's so much
more flowing when it doesn't
stick to your face, face which
is really dark. For like faces
in dreams, ours shouldn't hold
still when we go away
a little, say, move closer

a little to where we
are. Invisible,
but raise a hand inside
to cover your eyes and
feel it. Happy Oedipus,
blind, it is easy to imagine
you happy, you who
went into the gentle night.
It was never God who made
that night not seem good, only

our inability to be blind.



Poland on my mind

there's something concentrational about airports:
everything seems concentrational if you look
at it long enough. Rock 'n' roll festivals and soccer
matches evoke cramped living quarters in my mind
and the threat of suffocation. Long bank

lines make me think of queuing up for my own
share of the watery soup, hardly any

meat in it. When scared of death I am
reminded of deportation, of their toil-
ets when shitting in a public place. Why: am I

sadistic-masochistic-perverted-w.-jew-complex,
all of the above, whatever? I don't like to think
about it, but it keeps growing in the cracks between
objects, like that green stuff in my shower stall.

A fungus among us, or color dye, dyeing
the last cramped rooms of life, and showing to all, like pee
turning green in a pool, the invisible way out.