Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How To Walk with Flowers in the Dark

Open your eyes to the light
in the armful of lilies you are holding

Move forward and be guided
by the sheen of their white curves
the quavering stamens of dizzy gold
shimmering back at you as you

take the first step
A torch of flower-light
does not allow itself
to feel
cut from the earth
Just think: to be beautiful
and dying at the same, last time

Lay the lilies down on the body
Leave them, and say goodbye

Now, groping along
on hands and knees
the help you need
you generate yourself
as you wait for lucidity
to descend
with its burden
of resolve

which you’ll readily embrace, arms eager
glad to push upright again
dark clay at a good distance
wind from the sky heaping around you
living aromas
from beings of light someone planted
many years ago

© David Zieroth

The Governor General's Award for Poetry has been won by David Zieroth, North Vancouver, for The Fly in Autumn (Harbour Publishing; distributed by the publisher). Here's the testimonial:

"In The Fly in Autumn, David Zieroth addresses our common and defining human fate – the loneliness that is a rehearsal for death – with a tenderness and buoyancy that shows the reader “how to walk in the dark with flowers.” The intricacy and exuberance of rhyme and the breadth of vision are stunning."

From my perspective, David Zieroth's ambitions are broader than most poets, casting a net over the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas, Marcus Aurelius and others to arrive at conclusions of his own about the nature of reality and about death. From the poetic standpoint his exploration of the unreliability of reality plays into our love of ambiguity and a desire to see ordinary things from extraordinary angles. His strength is his ability to make thought not just interesting, but aesthetically compelling, too.

Among the very best poems in Zieroth’s collection is “How to Walk in the Dark with Flowers", which employs a central image to underscore his commitment to the imagination and to present a view of death that is not only stoic, but beautiful and deeply reassuring. His explorations are artistically adept and intriguing.

It’s because of this that Zieroth’s current collection should appeal to a broader audience than most, including readers more accustomed to confessional or sensory based poetry.

For a fuller assessment of David Zieroth's The Fly in Autumn see my review in the upcoming winter issue of The Malahat Review.

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