Robert Gibbons: Three Prose Poems
Winter Counts | Adding to the Light | Earth Marks
Tossed an extra layer of clothes on three full hours before sunrise to catch the meteors. Spread the white, wool blanket from Chiapas on a flat slab of granite in the darkness of the shadow of the seawall keeping all earth light at bay. As much of a phenomenon as the spectacle was above us, something just as strong tugged from below. I felt those who'd gone before, who'd done this from the vantage of the perfectly oblique angle of the stone. Sure enough, the Sioux kept records of these events. Winter counts, chronological pictographs painted on animal skins. This granite outcropping, magmatic cousin to meteors lighting up the sky pulsed of previous witness. A presence just as strong as her body wrapped for warmth in mine.
Adding to the Light
Noticeably, these bones in December cold. Sun turns the corner down Huntington Avenue & St. Stephens St. utilizing windows on the opposite side for clarity, its lateral slant. Clear as an emergency siren. A recent dream drove snow upward with the intensity of love. I walk open to every possibility. Who knows when some child of light might be sitting on the stairs selling paper cut-out snowflakes, trees, candles, bells? I may not buy, but am ready to express interest, browse, say hello, to all those adding to the light.
A South Seas' heat drops out of the trees, wafts along walls, & rises gelatinous off the tarmac. I'm whirling hot between two images: the one here in Boston Gauguin wanted to finish before he died, before crawling up into those far Tahitian mountains with a vial of arsenic, & the black grief of his daughter's death worming through him. Two years later, having survived the poison, he looked back on the blue, mural-sized painting, to muse upon the silence at his front door, coupled with the violent harmonies he divined in the universe. The painting's central figure is that of a young woman reaching skyward for the fruits of earth.
Today, out of this sinister, backwater Virginia heat, a black & white image rises opposing all color schemes: its central figure is Sally Mann's young daughter, Jesse, naked, held aloft by her own strength matching that of the iron hay hook. Her skin/limbs stretch innocent, a thin boundary line, in which the body measures the entire expanse of heaven.
Robert Gibbons' work has appeared in 42opus, 2River View, The American Journal of Print, Conspire, Eleven Bulls, Evergreen Review, Frank, In Posse Review, Jack Magazine, Janus Head, The Literary Review, and elsewhere.
Snow Monkey will feature his work in December. Online chapbooks of prose poems have been published by The Drunken Boat and Linnaean Street. Slow Trains nominated his poem "Ode to New York City," published in its summer issue, for the Pushcart.