I once heard someone boasting that they were ‘right on the cutting edge’ and I winced and thought ‘sounds painful!’ then I thought some more and wrote this poem. As usual you can hear it by pressing the ‘play’ button, or if that fails to appear, clicking on the title. This poem, has also been translated into French and published in a magazine there, so in my next installment I’ll post the French version and reflect a little on the process of being translated. Meanwhile here’s the original version:
At my back, like you, I always hear
The edge, the cutting edge is coming near.
Not the blind fury
With the abhorred shears
But this is what I fear;
The stealthy scissors of a blinded time
Cutting through accretions of the past
Dully and daily deleting, whatever is not next
Sneering, and sniping and snipping,
Excising every sign-post from the text
Paring all the parts that point away
To something other than our circled self.
I know the angels were the first to fall,
Cherub and Seraph spiralled down
In circling curlicues of sacred text,
Flaring in ink and paper to the floor,
The shredded evidence of our affair
Our old, embarassing affair with God.
And God himself will follow soon enough;
A little word so easy to excise
Another snippet for the cutting room
A sweeping on the heap of history.
But still at night, I tiptoe to the door
To rustle through these severed strips of love,
And strew my heart with scraps of poetry,
Forbidden hopes and shards of mystery.
They rustle through me in my waking dreams
And so I’ll have a heart-, a head-, a handful when
The scissors come for me.
For at my back, like you, I always here
The cutting edge, the edge is coming near.