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Page 91

Choose, poet, a leap into and out of blankness
or a fine and private place
where none embrace --
a vault? Or a vault?
(Oi gevalt!) (And vat about Vault Vitman?)

I like a dolphin-dipping poem, myself,
a quick blue plunge (breaking the water
with a hard smack: BASHO!), splashing
about a bit, luxuriating in the absence
of gravity, the urgent tangibility
of breath, the familiarity of a medium
in which, yet, it is alien to be this body
(as if I must have known water -- or art -- better
when I was something other than a body) --

coming up sleek-haired, dripping beads of blankness,
shivering, hunch-shouldered, glowing.

A poem lasts longer than a few quick twists
and somersaults in the pool, but cameras
can still the droplets' tiny tiaras of re-entry, freeze
the lacy draperies of our splashings. Conversely,
is there no anti-camera to turn our poems back
into joyous splashings?

Note: The "fine and private place where none embrace" cadges words from Marvells "To His Coy Mistress, to Make Much of Time": "The grave's a fine and private place,/ But none, I think, do there embrace." "Vault Vitman" – Walt Whitman. And Basho is Basho (his name, by the way – by some way, I hope – is Japanese for banana leaf). I enjoy the splash-like burst of his name, since he is best known for the haiku about the frog's leap, which ends with "Splash!" or, in some translations, "water sound."

The two vaults in line 4 are the leap (or vault -- a low leap being a low vaultage) and the tomb (or vault, an ancient tomb having a high vault-age). I'd apologize for the other vaults in line 5 (Oi gevault and Vault Vitman), but it's not really my vault. The language did it!

Stanza 4: Time-lapse photography shows the drop, as it hits the surface (re-entry) creating a tiny tiara of droplets, seen by us as a "splash".

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