Listening to Leonard Cohen. Can you tell?


There are two endings to the story of myself;
none other is possible, no other seeming
is ending at all, but resting place on the path
of ascent or plummet, of pinnacle or fall,
these implacable twins.

Either gravity is training for its own slow breaking,
either it shall relinquish its hold
and this force of weight I feel,
ever downward dragging,
the slow growth of hunger in my lungs for air,

prequels eventual fulfillment.
If the taste of something sweeter
than the air I know will follow
the acquisition of new-earned strength, my eyes
will reveal the world that always waited,

beautiful and new, above the earth’s fell scrim,
needing only the slow death of my body
to purchase revelation.
Or else the struggle is prequel
for inevitable plummet,

that long, slow fall to the only place where safety is,
that level ground where there can be no glory
in the ruins of my bones, but then no further pain.
Gravity is a law, and we do not understand it,
but I know what it is to fall.

A moment’s satisfaction
-well this is the worst-
followed by a swift cessation, and no half-loved
half-dreaded Face to greet me in sorrow
or joy when I finally breach the stony crest.

Knowing this, always, my hands still seek out flaws,
the narrowest of crevices, to splinter my nails
and draw me ever up. Though I am exhausted,
my muscles starved and twitching
in insatiable twin hungers

for oxygen and the brief splendor of the fall, forgetting
for a moment that I have already fallen once,
my shoulders bear my body, struggling, bloodied,
as though weighted with cross-beams,
forcing my flesh continually skyward.

Is it any wonder that
I am so tired, though other hands
have sought these bloodied fissures
and used this force to bear
their fragment bodies up?


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on February 4, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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