• Poetry Out Loud

    by Lawrence Haggquist

    A translator for the deaf,
    intense, yet self-effacing,
    gesticulates from an orb of light
    off stage left.
    Her swift fingers pantomime a voice
    emanating from center stage.

    That young voice,
    sharp, commanding,
    and quickened by emotion,
    delivers the war poem, ‘Dover Beach.’

    “Listen,” it urges,
    “you hear the grating roar of pebbles…”

    – Silence ensues,
    as thoughts vanish into meditation.

    California echoes through the voice in subtle cadences.
    It lives by another beach on a rocky coast,
    whose rocks, not yet pebbles, stubbornly resist eons of erosion
    by the pounding sea,
    retaining the proud integrity of ‘rocks.’

    But “Listen” on evenings when the tide tugs strong enough
    to push them from cups of sodden sand,
    and you will hear the rocks tumble over each other,
    like words colliding in a fathomless sea of silence –
    clicking and sliding, clattering and shifting,
    beneath the groans of hungry sea lions
    yelping for attention out in the tranquil bay.

    And as your mind roams from that granite shore toward the edge of meaning,
    you know the pebbles recited from the stage mean more than Dover Beach,
    more than war and the fading poignancy of love.

    Among the audience,
    listening and absorbing, I cannot help reflect
    the owner of that spotlight voice –
    tall, slender, and utterly convincing in his solipsistic rapture –
    has never heard, and never will,
    the “melancholy, long withdrawing roar”
    of which the poem speaks;
    nor have I, separated as we are by genes and generations.

    But I have heard rocks rumbling beneath the sway of tides
    and have felt a loneliness both instinctive and eternal in the sound.
    And I have looked out across the solitary ocean in twilight,
    over its cold, endless, moon-dappled indifference,
    longing for something more intimate than Nature.

    Tonight I listen to a poem recited for those who hear as I do.
    Yet I also enter the world of the deaf,
    as each stanza is deciphered into gesture before my eyes
    for those beyond the reach of sound,
    while from the quiet universe expanding at stage left
    The “turbid ebb and flow of misery”
    roars just the same;
    or, maybe not the same

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 21, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News, Creative Writing, Young Writers' Corner


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