In DC Across from Arlington


In DC Across from Arlington

I walk in my hometown to and from
a business meeting, wanting to weep,
your grave across the river,
and me caught in
such boxes–money, time–
stuck fast
in fast-moving side tracks.

I know the shape of your stone
from seeing others, and, from the diagrams,
what it should say, and I’ve seen
the clipped expanse of grass where
it’s supposed to sit, which my brain folds into
the oblong vista of sky and riverbank seen
from a landing plane, there, just beyond
a runway–

But I walk an asphalt street, walled in by architecture
shaped like faked honeycomb, interlocking
chained links,
while you, my dear, lie
over a bridge I don’t see how I can cross

There are, my memory believes,
winged horses sheathed in bronze
upon that bridge, their nostrils flaring
in full vigor, feathers woven like outstretched

The street narrows, is sided
by actual houses, faced
with actual brick, and their individuated crumbling
softens the air I walk through, as if it were
your pardon, as if even stone could forgive
when broken down for parts–

And how astonishingly lucky I have been, I think,
to have known such love, without
condition, though I cannot say the thought
makes me more cheerful, that it lifts
me like a flying horse, or sends a current of wind
or river or freedom against my cheeks–

only that it shifts
for a moment
the lids from all known boxes, letting in
sharp corners of fresh blue.

Another draftish rather gloomy poem (sorry!) posted for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. Also, sorry that I have been traveling and quite busy and fear I haven’t been able to return visits from commentators–will try to do this shortly. k.

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19 Comments on “In DC Across from Arlington”

  1. janehewey Says:

    there is a musical quality to stanza 5, with repetition of the word actual. This poem speaks to the “I” of me who, like so many others, walk down the familiar streets laden with experience. Sharp corners of fresh blue took me to a photographic view of your poem and dynamically drew me back in to the beginning. I enjoyed this, karin.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Jane==thanks for your kind comments. I have actually changed Stanza five again – adding back in a phrase I took out. This is still very much in progress. Thanks. K.

      • janehewey Says:

        I am not sure exactly what you shifted here but find it possibly more smooth and with the same musical qualities as before. this is a new favorite of yours.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Ha– I added the line (which I’d taken out just before the first posted draft) about stone forgiving if broken down for parts. I think that was it, but I think it makes that whole bit make more sense and reverts back to the stone. k.

        On Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM, ManicDDaily

  2. How poignant and sadly topical after yesterday’s shooting. Not many of those slain are likely to lie in Arlington though – as all were civilians, contractors – all over fifty as though he were seeking older figures of authorities. Why are they always crazy? Why does their publicity take us away from the loss that’s stated here. Widows, children, co-workers – so many depending on men and women in their mature, fully formed, best thinking years. This poem of grief, in a time of grief and I know we’re all strong, and keep putting one foot ahead of the other and thinking ” I must go on, life is short and for the living.” Beautifully said K.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Gay–I was saddened by the shootings in DC but I was in a part of the City where I was very little affected by them==They do make one very conscious of the fragility of life for sure–so crazy. I was thinking here of my father’s grave that is in Arlington. I’m really unsure how best to frame the poem- maybe i should put the discussion in the third person – he and refer frankly to my father’s grave instead of second person? In the first draft, I started talking about his grave and moved to second person but that didn’t seem right either. So will have to think about it further, i guess. Thanks. k.

  3. brian miller Says:

    love the closure on this k….to have known such a love is a very special thing indeed…and that it shifts the lids of all the boxes letting in the sharp corners of blue…ha…yes, that is amazing…how love will rock your world….

  4. MarinaSofia Says:

    I’ve walked (well, driven) that bridge many a time. There is such contrast between the two parts of the city, between the hustle of political and business life in DC and the silence of Arlington. The love expressed there is so touching. I like the premise of the poem – I think you can make it even more powerful and look forward to reading it again.

  5. Steve King Says:

    This is wonderfully lucid and engaging. It’s clear that the subject is close to you, but your voice and tone makes it universal. Excellent writing throughout this piece.

  6. This makes very much sense and truth even after the news filled with horrid details… You write it with such details that it’s applicable in other place and incidents of gloom

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes–it is gloomy – Arlington is the national military cemetery in the U.S. and I really meant the poem to refer to a specific gravesite there, but it is very interesting that others interpret as being about the shootings at the Navy Yard (which were, of course, horrible.) I don’t know if the wider interpretation is a bad thing–

  7. kaykuala Says:

    Reminds me of the day I stood at Arlington. Of the somber mood of seeing the eternal flame, flickering in the slight breeze at Pres. John’s grave while just a simple cross at Robert’s. The ‘Navy’ shootings brought all these memories back. Great write K!


  8. hedgewitch Says:

    Was thinking of you during all the insanity, k. –this poems seems separate from it for me, despite the coincidence of writing time–very personal, a lot of loss that is not just a one step removed ‘the bell tolls for thee’ sort of feeling–far too immediate I think–not disbelief and horror, which is our first reaction to the useless, violent deaths of strangers, but grief. The images of the buildings take them from urban monoliths, stark and arid, to honeycombed organic things capable of connection in their crumbling, reflecting the stages of the speaker’s experience, perhaps. A fine, sensitive, lucent piece, k., in all ways.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, it was, I’m almmost embarrassed to say, quite personal, even with all going on in DC = honestly, it’s a pretty big city at this point, so the terrible events did not seem particularly close, except that I know specifically where the Navy Yard is from growing up in DC – but it’s far from Arlington.

      Thanks for your kind words and thoughts. I am in fact just super beat right now. k.

  9. Gloomy is good and seems at times to bring out the best poets like you have to offer. You and Pearl have been strong on my mind.

  10. vb holmes Says:

    I find the beauty and sensitivity of your words cancel any gloomy overtones. A lovely expression of your feelings for your father.

  11. Ruth Says:

    to have known such a love… and the depth of that love echoes and echoes in this poem

  12. ayala Says:

    Karin, a gorgeous poem. A favorite.

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