Ships & the Maritime: George Oppen & Norma Cole

from George Oppen's Of Being Numerous

We are pressed, pressed on each other,
We will be told at once
Of anything that happens

And the discovery of fact bursts
In a paroxysm of emotion
Now as always.  Crusoe

We say was
So we have chosen.

Obsessed, bewildered

By the shipwreck
Of the singular

We have chosen the meaning
Of being numerous.

from Norma Cole's Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008

Conditions Maritime

the letter of the ocean

becomes its own narration

The fragmentary teeth become the
allegory of completion

There she stood, dressed like a sailor
in black pants, striped jersey, pea jacket

Wearing amber for luck
and company

"into eventual accuracy" (Michael Ondaatje)

Inverted lives
it was said refer to the ocean

There she stood, etc.

Thus the false map is scrawled
by sleep as if history assembled
these names

This time and its history a calculus of stars, the limit of
the formal plain, its proportions

the sign for division

outside its context

its issues' decision

(soon we would begin to lose
the feeling in our fingertips)

that it was science; that it was so

appealing; that rules are the instrument

Here we are talking about the playful
handling of an object
the negotiation with an imagined acceptable

That the poem is a toy
with the structure of insomnia

That gardens being lit thus saved
just to know and not have
in local practice
given up that control
"in your dreams"

That time, that spiral marrow
(the space between shoulder blades)
that hyphen without reason
lashed to death by virtue=reason=virtue
(the reason between knowledge and fact)

I   wash my feet
before going to bed
contrafact:one complete thought

(note: line breaks approximated as best as possible given limited spacing options in html.)

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