Poems by Chad Norman

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Poems by Chad Norman

To The Readers:

The following poems are all memories.
Mary is on the beach/shoreline where her Percy was cremated. She never actually visited the site.
Each poem opens with her in a different pose. Along with the “small sealed box” that she was eventually
given, it according to many, contained the ashes of Percy’s heart, which was plucked  from his funeral pyre.
She is looking back through the eight years they spent together.

A HYMN FOR A HYMN, 1816

Mary seated on a boulder;
a small sealed box in her arms

Break out the laughter for thoughts on Permanence.

The body’s wish to conquer,
overturn, easily erase
that final & trusted appearance,
the One

our shrunken circle saw as us:
as uncommonly solid:
as loyalty’s proof–
the mind opposes its own beauty!

Seal up the rupture & cracks lengthening in Love.

The eyes’ curse to recede,
surrender, kindly kindle
that unseen & awful shadow,
the Mystery
our current gloom dissolves in us:
in July’s desertions:
in ecstasy’s clasp–
the heart firms its own form!

Loveliness, full of awe, bring no words;
we end, one known by the needs of air,
and him, the sea’s bright child, free of vows.

Humankind, what a strange spell!

A SEASON AT BISHOPSGATE, 1815

Mary standing on a boulder;
a small sealed box between her feet

One brief and tranquil summer
I was led
to pardon the timing of fate
as shade went away
from the shadow,
bringing the hot spotted rooms
of Bishopsgate
where the white beams of
each ceiling smiled;
from this height
dusk plummets & ignites
as distance narrows quickly
to a lone house
taken without hesitancy
to remain Scandal’s family.

I forget…
as shade went away from the shadow?
Tis it!
The memory again grants my entry,
layers of daylight lower
into the sun’s iris,
on the air appears
my Percy’s sad cooing Aziola,
come to fuse
a pair of opposite seasons;
my soles accept the glacier’s need
to sharpen stone,
much I actually feel
begins in the foot,
atop this still & cracked example
of Time’s skill.

I retrieve…
layers of daylight lower into the sea’s iris?
Was it!
We took this same hour
On the water,
a quick quiet trip
to find the forest in reflections,
grief had not grown
to the size of the creature
in me today,
our minds adrift
in the love of Awe;
if I were to leap
the only reason could be clear
such a short fall
far too fair to satisfy,
left to go on,
the lost figurehead of the Don Juan.

DEDICATION REVISITED, 1817

Mary studying the sky:
a small sealed box left behind on a boulder

 And now my heart
has no home,
the Summer tasks meant for two,
Percy,
unended,
left for the new widow I’ll be.

Islam still Islam
in our last house,
Casa Magni,
where the mind’s beauty boded
how to love
in the live circle we were.

Each cloud like each wave
clings to the moon.
I knew the stars with him
what a thought,
what a truth—
not a twinkle grieves our gaze.

Between my toes
the sea brings a brief reunion,
the brother Laon,
the sister Cythna,
the Lovers
–we laughed as
the rumours toured England!

“A League of Incest!”
How ridiculous, how wrong.

The Memory no less
a lit thing of distant space
becomes the sight,
the Future’s view too soon.

Where is the Past?
My murderous act?
Finally it feels ready to confess,
coldly rising in my dress,
this sea,
in need.

ELENA, 1820

Mary lying in the sand;
a small sealed box on her hip

 Sometimes I hide myself for Death
like secrets or an injury–
what day could it possibly be?
The sky & its blue are without a cloud,
cruel how it makes a way so soon
pulling a shadow on the nervous water,
like the memory of my near-drowned Shelley,
desperate, never so lost, yet successful
at keeping such a child news for others.
Others, the hidden circle for his letters,
held out by obeying a request of silence:
Must we ever speak of this child?
If so, may our dear Mary sleep in secrecy.
Such a child said to be of several wombs,
the ephemeral charge meant to churn mine,
a womb only months over the birth of a boy
I, like a cunning woman, released to rituals
known as breath,  life beyond the age of three.
Three, mask & lies & mishap, Shelley let them
alter his ego, in the abrupt style of a deed
our insistence for Truth tore open at once,
still daring & unbelievably agape on this day.
He looks up from the sand where my finger
has stopped at the end of a smile I’m sure
such a child could call her father’s, but
my finger resumes, leaving them for the sea,
the tide’s first tired and maternal wave.

NO OTHER HEAVEN, 1812

Mary turning her back to the sea;
a small sealed box balanced on her palm:

 Thinking,
apt endless venture,
curse or courage?

We were young before we met.
Before, as his early thoughts
asked about the Age,
about discrepancy,
that between the will to do good
& the power of doing so
an Atheist’s theory.

We were of no age
outside of a number.
Outside,
sitting apart,
under the sky’s options,
a number of stars
to lead one to God,
or beyond
to Mab,
his hated fairy,
the queen he let reign.

“Doing good” never a strange notion,
within his reach,
closer to the hand,
he thought was possible,
when he advocated
increasing the human power,
men’s knowledge, then
there is no absolute need for Heaven,
or an afterlife.
He thought about us doing good.

How unlike my planted mind.
There is no other Heaven.
I say this knowing joy,
knowing I say words in favour of
that which is beyond the mind,
the men, their hands
waiting in the poor depths of pockets,
or held shut
by the inescapable sense of
a trusted prayer.

I gaze at the edge of Italy,
unable to forget
we shared all
we dared to,
the effort holy,
enough.

THE CHOICE REVISITED, 1814

Mary kneeling in the surf;
a small sealed box under a wave

 And little of life
becomes light enough to let go!

 Quite, yes, quite easy
to exasperate the sea:
I know it knows
I intend to toss back
the moment
I stepped into his carriage
unaware of
the white hours
awoken for us,
eager, too eager,
to lead the future forward
to the flow of sights
foraging in my mind,
aiding his bright grip,
his eyes’ confident ache,
the love-led tug I saw
seat our dreams to dare.

And little of life
becomes light enough to let go!

 To quit the jeers
looming on London’s tongue
we nodded,
three isolated faces,
three wild pupils,
setting off the whip’s triumphant crack
as dawn confirmed
the choice to explore
the edge of the Continent;

run with him
running from the one long charmed
by the constant loiterous option
Suicide offered,
flooding her gravid body,
her eyes’ endless vigil
the inexorable glare I watch
in this inhuman water.

And little of life
becomes light enough to let go!

 Compared to any river
how the dawn did soothe!
We clapped as the clement sun
grew like a blessing
the kind window
keenly formed on the carriage floor,
a slow white shaft
warming our fated shoes,
& the defiant smiles we donned
before a bump shook
my mind back to Skinner St.
where father slept
without her,
the daughter I had left to him,
when at Dover we
drew up a will for the Past.

Chad Norman is a poet from Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. These poems are from the manuscript, Squall: Poems In The Voice Of Mary. 

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