Alicia Pollard – Four Poems
The Use of Song
The notes fall on our ears like petals to the earth,
And sound waves like the skirts of silver seas
Send rippling glassy swells through listeners’ souls –
Eardrum to brain, or sense to thirsty heart?
But how does the piano’s raindrop tongue,
Or cello’s kingly, golden west wind call,
Enthrall me like the summons of a dream?
What is the use of song? The bliss of taste
(A jungle on my tongue) is useful still,
To tell the orange from the oleander –
And sight and touch protect my fragile form.
But why does music make my joy grow wings,
And overfill my sorrow’s new moon tide?
Why do I, too, long to sing a space
Of paradise, where northern lights resound?
In the gray honeycomb, I tremble in the glare of the fluorescent sun,
Trying to piece a melody from sneezes, coughs, and clicking keyboards,
And free myself with closed eyes, remembering Unreal comforts:
A grey office devoured by lush vines and blossoms;
Cubicles devoured by tanzanite waves;
Haunting sea-voices hallowing a headset;
Subway tunnels winding through crystal cathedral-caves;
A cell phone hijacked by a scheming genii;
Cigarette stench revealed as the smoke of sorcery;
Parking lots cracking into mosaic tiles;
Ancient chariots bursting out of chrysalae-cars;
Factory smoke filled with fiery flocks;
A sophomore dreamer, I wish even for the freefall of hurt;
For glowing hieroglyphs of beauty,
For ghastly ruins in ugliness,
For wilderness in the waking world:
Do I dig too deep, too far, for the roots of the tree?
First Glimpse of Frederic Erwin Church’s “River of Light”
The circus games and colored paper frieze
Of fifth-grade art; amidst the noisy sea,
I filled my mind with shining fantasies
And gazed at classroom walls in misery.
But there! A paradise, enchanter’s eye
The ancient jungle trees in leafy vine,
A river’s fierce reflection of the sky,
Exotic sun-world; longing’s burning wine.
My greedy gaze absorbed the luscious light:
A legend’s gate, a mythic realm of gold,
A secret scene which lured my hungry sight,
The tropics’ call in winter’s bitter cold.
Though now I’ve learned to quell the yearning’s ache,
I long to reach the heaven daydreams make.
My autumn dreams were silver,
Midnight forests of glimmering ebony,
Celestial filigree shining soft,
Cerulean mountains feathery with pine,
Wilderness verdant in silken dusk.
Only the unseen interested me,
The ancient stories of astronomy,
The obsidian veil of the cosmos,
The ivy on castles and roses in palaces –
Ever far, so always glorious.
The tawny shores of my waking world
Never satisfied the sea of my visions.
Though rich as chocolate,
Theatre’s glory was bittersweet
When I hungered for true fantasy,
Preferred mystery over reality,
Never realizing that dreaming can turn savage
And truth is just as strange a country.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Beauty, that mysterious attribute we enjoy through our senses and our hearts, is the call of eternity. When we see a green field snowy with Queen Anne’s lace, or hear a baby’s delighted laugh, or read words woven together like spider’s web strands, we hear the call and glimpse how the world should be all the time. Our joy entangles with hurt because we know beautiful things will fade and die, as we will. Beauty hurts because it reminds us of our longing to transcend time, mortality, and suffering.
We know something is beautiful if it fills us with yearning: the satisfaction of finding a good thing, and the pain of desiring all good things to last. Beauty encourages us to seek and find good things that last forever.
Alicia Pollard is a native of New England and a lover of its shores and mountains. She graduated from Grove City College with a B.A. in English and has been published in The Quad and Echo.