Mark Caltonhill – Things Known, November 19, 2011

Mark Caltonhill’s recent poems are all available on his blog:
and earlier than that, are available in his first collection: “Malarkey’s Amusement Park”; NT$220 to Red Roomers)

Things Known

Before he sits to eat, Jesus knows he will be betrayed.
….Copernicus knows the earth is round,
….Darwin knows there is no God,
….Marx knows the working class must liberate itself,
and, eating their TV dinners ten thousand miles apart, Brezhnev and Nixon know the people will believe their lies.
I only know that today
….before dusk
….you will come
….to watch the dying sun’s rose rays light up the swaying willow leaves
and the rising moon cast long shadows across the river.

I also know that on seeing me, you will smile,
….we will walk,
….talk of music and art,
….religion, science and philosophy,
and enjoy the silence.

I know we will build our home beside the river,
….near the ocean,
….or in the mountain forests,
….where will have two children, one girl and one boy,
who we will call Jasmine and Fred (or maybe Charlie and Nicholas after our idols).

They will go to the local school to learn to read and write and arithmatise,
….that the earth is roundish, that godliness can be found within their own hearts,
….that women, like everyone, must liberate themselves,
….and to recognize that politicians are lying every time their lips move,
but above all, they will learn from cicadas in the trees and birds on the air, from the wind and the rain and the waves.

Furthermore, I know that if we are lucky,
….we will share many more sunsets,
….cuddling close on the shore against the cool evening breeze,
….smiling knowingly to each other,
as we watch our children make the same mistakes we did before.

I know you will hold me close,
….protect me against myself
….as madness claims the last dance.
….Or you will go first,
quietly, peacefully, nodding to sleep in my embrace.

And although it is sometimes hard to believe, I do know that the earth is round,
….that it circles the sun as the moon circles the earth,
….thus the seasons progress and night follows day follows night,
….just as now, among the still willow trees beside the river,
I know that tomorrow you will come.

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