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January 16, 2010

the stars have had something interesting for me tonight, haven’t they?
it was an odd convergence of emotions today.

also, the poet pk page died the other day, which is sad because she did write beautifully. so, to cap off the night, i give you one of the poems of hers that stuck with me for a long time:

Photos of a salt mine

How innocent their lives look,
how like a child’s
dream of caves and winter, both combined;
the steep descent to whiteness
and the slope
with its striated walls
their folds all leaning as if pointing to
the great whiteness still,
that great white bank
with its decisive front,
that seam upon a slope,
salt’s lovely ice.

And wonderful underfoot the snow of salt
the fine
particles a broom could sweep,
one thinks
muckers might make angels in its drafts
as children do in snow,
lovers in sheets,
lie down and leave imprinted where they lay
a feathered creature holier than they.

And in the outworked stopes
with lamps and ropes
up miniature matterhorns
the miners climb
probe with their lights
the ancient folds of rock—
syncline and anticline—
and scoop from darkness an Aladdin’s cave:
rubies and opals glitter from its walls.

But hoses douse the brilliance of these jewels,
melt fire to brine.
Salt’s bitter water trickles thin and forms,
slow fathoms down,
a lake within a cave,
lacquered with jet—
white’s opposite.
There grey on black the boating miners float
to mend the stays and struts of that old stope
and deeply underground
their words resound,
are multiplied by echo, swell and grow
and make a climate of a miner’s voice.

So all the photographs like children’s wishes
are filled with caves or winter,
innocence
has acted as a filter,
selected only beauty from the mine.
Except in the last picture,
it is shot
from an acute high angle. In a pit
figures the size of pins are strangely lit
and might be dancing but you know they’re not.
Like Dante’s vision of the nether hell
men struggle with the bright cold fires of salt,
locked in the black inferno of the rock:
the filter, not innocence but guilt.

by P.K. Page

love and sound

– a

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