the dark, waiting presence...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Jeff Daniel Marion

Tight Lines

First read the water,
then cast toward pockets,
the deep spaces between
the cold print of rocks.

It’s the flow that beguiles—
what’s beneath that lures.

But when the line goes
a dark, waiting presence
will flash
and weave its way,
throbbing, into your pulse.


Marion’s poem is, of course, about fishing and has nothing to do with fishing, and in tone and style, a typical piece from his oeuvre that shows a full, lasting panorama of Appalachia. His works for me exemplify the term a poet’s poet. His craft is drawn with deceptively simple strokes – the brief push and tug of words that open the mind.

“First,” the reader is told, one must look outside the self. This, as Marion understands, is possible because the self has been explored though never exhausted. In this regard, a strong connection is made for recognizing one’s part in the universe. Note the “throbbing into [the] pulse” at the end of the poem. “Tight Lines,” from Vigils: Selected Poems, is a work in the tradition of Whitman’s “noiseless patient spider,” launching its filament “out of itself” into the unknown.

The beauty at the structural center of the poem is the surface “flow that beguiles” and the lure of what is beneath that surface – the discovery. The river’s continual flowing is a strong likeness for the ebb of existence. The “dark, waiting presence” is what allows us to find the full potential of the creative life – a life that certainly will incorporate an artistic way of moving and being in the world but should also touch every aspect of daily living, both the extraordinary and the mundane. Let me add that the waiting presence is all around us. Always.

The river is a journey. We place ourselves in the context and borders of that journey – we must be part of it. First a flash. Then a weaving of the way. But there will be a throbbing into the pulse.

Springs from the mountains have no thoughts of ocean. The move in the now. Oceans will come, but later.


Collin said...

I've never read any of Marion's work, so thanks for the introduction. I like how he takes what could be a cliched "nature" poem and turns back into something both personal and universal at the end.

Is that a still from "Picnic at Hanging Rock" I spy. I love that movie so much. I may have to watch it this weekend.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

I like your point about the personal & the universal. Thanks for the read, Collin.

Pris said...

Hi Sam
Thanks for this. When I read simple, yet such superbly crafted poems I find myself trying to fathom the secrets behind doing that so well. It's skill and it's being in touch with the flow within, it seems, to simplify it big time.

Thanks for your blog visit. Do you like Redon? I only like some of O'Keefe, but I could look at Redon forever.

And by the way, your bio in The Dead Mule is a hoot:-)

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the read, Pris. I think the subtle depth in Marion's poem reflects a strong skill, one that can't be taught or even learned - one I wish I had even the smallest hold on.

And yes, I do like Redon. "Songes" is one of my favorites.

Bozo said...

One of my favorites. A little gem.