Dominic Fisher Poetry
“As if a tree could stutter briefly into being
lose all its leaves then vaporise”
Bonfire Night from a Loft Window
Windows and doors
We’re looking out of a loft window. Always in some ways, if we must live in our heads. But here we are anyway, looking southeast. There’s a light wind round the frame of the half open Velux window. Someone else is up early, their lit bathroom window making an orange lower-case i, in contrast to the dark capital on the horizon.
That ‘I’ is Purdown Transmitter, and if whoever is in their bathroom is on their phone or listening to the radio, that maybe where their signal is coming from – lower-case i, receiving signals from upper-case I. But who am I? It’s a question we might spend our entire lives trying to answer, and there is, I understand, a Buddhist meditation in which you ask yourself that same question over and over.
A poet I have long loved is Czeslaw Milosz. Born in Tsarist Russia, raised in Poland, and active in underground resistance there during the Nazi invasion, he settled eventually in the USA. Not surprisingly perhaps the voice in his poems often asks who they are, or how many. The poem I’m thinking of in particular is Ars Poetica? I was probably half thinking of it when I wrote the poem beneath the quote below.
The purpose of poetryis to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
Czeslaw Milosz, Ars Poetica?, 1968, trans Czeslaw Milosz & Lillian Vallee
Not quite myself
Like you, I am vague sometimes
half in myself half out of it
like a shadow in a doorway.
I guess I am most myself asleep
though it can seem I’m underneath
a pile of other people’s overcoats.
And even then I can hear the wind
rattling around outside going
give us names let us in let us in
so we too can be solid citizens.
Let us inhabit your rooms, let us~
press your buttons, wear your labels.
I try to reply through the keyhole~
but my mouth is locked, or a dog
has placed its paws across my face.
You shake me awake, you’re shouting
you say. I try to explain but, like you
I’m not entirely myself at times.
(From A Customised Selection of Fireworks
Shoestring Press, 2022)