What Calls Here is Scarce Known

I am tired of I, the clamorer,
sitting by this boggy place that seems like
little but muck and rot,
sitting still as still as possible until what has been disturbed

Black wings and a sapphire body
that is a damsel fly, that comes to light on
a slender reed over the murky pool,
beneath her a tiny Pre-Cambrian triptych
of water spiders and dragonflies, minnows
turtles in a walking slumber in the heated shallows,
duckweed, fronds and whorls of billowing water plant,
egeria, frogbit, the floating world of lily pads, nurseries
for dragonflies who joust and rip through the air

Oh, but the damsel fly is a Queen
so delicate, such a jewel
more still on her reed than any of us!

It is hard to tell what is shadow and what is growth
in the umber colored water
along the edge are the foot prints
of ring tailed bandits who have sated themselves
on giant fresh water mussels – shells big as my hand-
opened and glistening, tossed on the banks.

Here there are so many species of moss that it is
dizzying to look at them.
And still, the I is trying to still itself,
charmed and seduced by the richness of bog life;
the insect world, the underwater world, the flora,
the calls of herons and hawks, kingfishers,
the song of the wren, the song of the world –
The World! The World!

Easing away into the afternoon is all this is
so far, as the bog is not interested in the rapture
of the I enthralled by it.
The damsel queen would as soon
rest on the knee as the reed, wherever there is sun
is all that matters, not that this is a knee, and this a reed.
It goes on, life in the boggy place, whether the I is
witness or not, whether it is nimble or frail, as if to say
from its muck and its rot and its jeweled damsels,
see how easy it is – can’t you see,
how easy it is?


pbsweeney August 2007


4 responses to “What Calls Here is Scarce Known

  1. What a deep and rich poem. The muck and rot is the natural and real life all around us, and we, the collective I’s that wonder and witness it can only praise the Creator of it all in our stillness. Just beautiful 🙂

    Ya Haqq!

  2. Oh Good God! You write Sufi poetry?!!! And such beautiful ones!!!

  3. Salamaat,
    Mashaallah gorgeous. It’s such a blessing to be able to enjoy solitude.

  4. Love comes in many forms and I was right there with you in your rapture.

    It’s always funny how a humble space or object can become an object of beauty in the hands of a master, although for those of us who know how to look beauty is always all around.


    Ps I found you via google looking for a poem about damsel flies to use on my wifes Christmas card, I hope you don’t mind, your words were so lovely and she is my Queen 🙂

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