One Single Impression: A Summer's Day

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On a hot and hard and humid day,
The taste and scent of my own sweat
And the sound of my own voice
Talking to shadows
In the utter stillness
Amid the blinding brightness of sunlight
Spilling through the clouds

In steam showers laden with rainbows

That never quite touch this earth--

These become my daydream of love.

Also in this dream:
The iron spikes of a thistle,

Small yet strong
And pushing through
The center of this vision,
Pushing back the rainbows.

This is the nature of love,
The nature of my heart,
In this dream.

It is a lonely thing.

The summer night is like a perfection of thought. (Wallace Stevens)

It seems to me poetry is as much about subterfuge as it is about honesty. While it gets at the exquisite beauty and truth (same thing?) of a single experience, it does so in a way that maintains a distance between speaker and audience. Diction and structure see to it. They allow the writer the wriggle room to say, "No, it wasn't about that at all," or "No, I wasn't using that word in that way," or "I wasn't thingking of you at all." A comma here or there or not can draw the fine line between headlong emotion and cold restraint. Dangerous stuff.

Reading Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets in the collection Fatal Interview is all about that "come hither so I can be invisible" effect of poetry. The arcane vocabulary and stylized structure shield these fankly erotic poems from the reader even as they dance naked on the page. By the time the poem is clear, Millay has dressed herself and left the bedroom. There's really no conversation between poet and audience. She's done and satisfied and that's it.

Writing this poem--over and over again and over and over possibly tomorrow because I can't quite settle myself with it--I couldn't help but feel over and over again the pain of love--of being present heart and soul--only to be disappointed by the discovery of indiscretion, of broken faith. Of feeling through to the bone the pain of broken faith. I wanted to get past it and write a happy thing about a summer day. But then the thoughts of summer heat--the too much of weather we New Englanders experience in summer and winter--would not step aside from its partner in my mind--the solitude born of brokenness and the pathetic discover that life goes on and might as well be felt thoroughly. So I let it write itself and came back over and over and tried to reason with it.

What I have here is a lonely thing that refuses to participate in that conversation.Such is the nature of truth and perhaps even of beauty.

One Single Impression


  1. Your poetry spoke loudly the tale of loneliness but it was wonderful to "awake" to the beauty of the thistle flower. To me, it is one of the prettiest. Thus, maybe the sharpness of the thistle was really an awakening to beauty instead of loneliness? Just ignore me -- go with your poem how you meant it to be.

  2. You've packed so much into this post, truth, gems of wisdom to contemplate. Great work as usual. You've honored my prompt. Hugs, G

  3. Beautiful poetry, so meaningful. I like it very much! Thanks Sandy!

  4. A beautiful poem. As for truth and beauty, perhaps they are so elusive because both are in the eye of the beholder. We each have our own - and our way of expressing it.

  5. Ahhh, English teacher. Who knows what a poem means? The writer? The Reader? The writer knows what he/she wants it to mean, but the reader soaks it in the vat of personal experience and it takes on a new life. The more opaque and obtuse the wording, the more latitude for interpretation. Never tell. Pappy

  6. i sought understanding, i found wisdom, i was educated; i looked in the mirror and saw myself ...

    BRAVO! Sandy, BRAVO! You get a standing ovation for this one --- BRAVO!

    When I read a poet's unique expressions, about everything and nothing, I look for the mirror images of self, and this is what I speak to. Thus I am being selfish --- a poem is a thing of beauty and secrets, a mystery that can't be untangled in its entirety, unless it's by the creator, still speaking to the commonalities ... this is what connects humanity, even when we don't see as others see, once the commonality is found -- it is in that respect that I enjoy others poetic creations ---

    Living in two world allows me more poetic freedom than most, as my native language is "jive talking" on a most primitive level -- and I wear my suffering like a badge of honor --- because each day I am a live I survive it.

    Gee Sandy, have I told you lately that you inspire me to .....?

  7. I could relate with the poem so very well, Sandy :)

    I was looking at other comments here..I agree with Anthony..

    Truth isn't always elusive, but the Ultimate truth for one's life takes a life time to reveal..

    and your note is interesting..I have always felt, even the most honest poem could be interpreted in many different ways....

    I remember writing 3 interpretations of Eliot's Wasteland for a single client and I have writen 12 different ones in all...yet, as one studies further, there could be more and more versions..

    and I'm sure - none would match what Eliot had in mind :)

    Good reading Sandy...I feel like coming again and again. :)


  8. The first part of your poem is thick with the heat of summer and new love! And I love how you used the thistle - spiky yet a sunburst of color!

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  10. Anonymous8:08 AM

    I come to your poem, having recently been reading the history of literary criticism, which has shifted from writer to text to reader through to the slipperiness of words. For me, the different interpretations are part of a poem's richness, but I do believe that these aren't totally without constraint.

    You have set out to be truthful, which to me is also important. There is a sadness, even a loneliness in love because we are finite beings in a transient world. The thistle pushing its spikes into the sensual images you build up in the first verse is very effective.

  11. Universally true with your usual ability to get to something in a unique and special way.

  12. Love this poem. This happens to many of us. Really moved by these two lines

    In steam showers laden with rainbows
    That never quite touch this earth

    as usual, brilliant lines

  13. Full of tangles of thoughts and poignant memories; your poem leads me into memories of my own.

  14. Dreamy, poignant, vivid. Just lovely, and so relevant to my life now...

  15. Anonymous9:23 AM

    Wonderful, Sandy, I love your phrase, "the solitude born of brokenness" which resonates so loud.

    Your honesty in this post is deeply touching to me. You are right, nowhere can a writer be more honest with who and what he is, his deepest impressions and feelings, than in this writings. Beautifully said!!!

  16. Your warm, wonderful images are welcome on this wintry day.

  17. Sandy, this is a very elaborate post.
    Meaningful the poem, joyful the photograph, really deep and important the thoughts and the words.

  18. keep writing, it helps heal the soul. i'm still writing like this almost 40 years after my struggle with betrayal but the pain is less. writing is therapy and poems the ultimate expression of honesty cloaked in words.

  19. The poem is great and I could feel it. I love the photo!

  20. Anonymous12:44 PM

    I think it's just perfect, I like that it's two parts in almost reverse emotions, I think the first part is sort of happy state while the second about the thistle adds reality, that not everything has to be beautiful to be appreciated

  21. only a true poet can produce verse that evokes so many different responses; your poem has depths and layers that call out to each reader in unique ways. For me "the iron spikes of a thistle" speak of hard, uncomfortable, painful awakening in the midst of love's heat -- yet the photo of the thistle reminds me of how beautiful the thistle is--so even the pain of love and the loneliness it can leave behind have a beauty.

  22. The heart always wishes for what is real even if the daydream must be sacrificed in the end. Rainbow or thistle....all beautiful.

  23. As always this is a beautiful poem.

    I am passing on The Honest Scrap Award to you.

    You can find the info on my web page.

    Thank you for always reading my work.

    love, Melanie-bd

  24. yes, your words bring some simile memories in my mind...your thoughts are very intense ...I enjoyed reading

  25. Anonymous5:55 PM

    steam showers: perfect. lots of summer images juxtaposed, shadow and blinding light, sweat and the cool secret in the shadow.

    I like that distance in poetry between writer and reader. It allows both to fill the gaps with themselves. It's those spaces that speak loudly and facilitate connections (or not!).

  26. Anonymous6:32 PM

    ..imagine a landscape in a foggy dusk or a dawn- a loitering star somewhere behind the branches of a tree-viewed from afar how easy or difficult would it be to decide whether the objects aforementioned are happy or sad?_
    -to borrow ur own words "Such is the nature of truth and perhaps even of beauty"..
    many thanks for a beautiful poem..

  27. I thought you caught the feelings of both joy and pain we all feel when it comes to love...your writing is beautiful and always speaks to me in volumes!

  28. Hi again
    You got me thinking ...
    I really believe 'wriggle room' is good. I'm into encouraging people to think around issues. Think laterally and new discoveries are made. I write too - mostly prose - and I love leaving 'blanks' which the reader is invited to fill in for herself.

  29. your words accompanying this poem are beautiful. i love how you said you let it write itself! this is so true.. i find my process of poetry the same way... i think love can't exist without sadness. it's still beautiful.

  30. Dearest Sandy--
    I liked the poem a lot, but what I really liked was this last line...

    'What I have here is a lonely thing that refuses to participate in that conversation.'

    That line speaks to me so much...that's where my heart is tonight.

    Love to you--

  31. The beauty of words, to me, is that they take one to a separate place with throngs of others. The thistle is striking - I've used photos of this ubiquitous 'weed' for many posts - it is a fascinating and colorful part of my world. Great poem, great!

  32. Wow, you sum up what the rest of think and you do it so well! Your pics are only surpassed by your poems!

  33. I felt as one chasing rainbows in a dream which turned out to be beautiful balloons which burst when touched by the colorful thistles...Actually I saw much in this dream and thank you for sharing it.

  34. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Lovely poem. You gave me a lot to think about, and more to look up. Did someone say you are a teacher???

  35. Anonymous6:45 PM

    lovely sandy simply lovely... when the heart speaks.. talking to shadows.... beautiful post.. thank you

  36. Sandy, thank you. You did wonderfully writing this on such a cold winter's day. For sure we write of our memories and impressions so it really shouldn't be that hard in the winter.
    I was waiting to see how you got to that thistle. Even if you didn't say it we knew thistles are summer's flowers.
    Of course it was in the 70's and 80's where I was when I started. I did like you said and wrote and rewrote and rewrote and stopped finally tonight.


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