Today I am making “Journeymaker to Keddar (II)”, the final poem from Marginalia to Stone Bird, publicly available: in part as defiance against the world’s darkness, in part to mark its Rhysling nomination, and in part to celebrate our fourth anniversary as a couple – I read this poem during our wedding last year.
I hope you enjoy.
The Journeymaker to Keddar (II)
by Rose Lemberg
Come, Keddar, weigh my hair
with images of the mountain
moon panther and chickadee,
mink and hare and sure-footed deer,
its hooves covered in snow;
talk to me about voices
that speak to you as you fall,
that speak to you as you climb.
Falling off Ramár and climbing up Nimár
is a dangerous proposition.
To fall off what must be climbed,
to climb up the heights you fell from;
the mountain inversed, which is the freezing in your body
emptied out of its ice, a cavern that echoes with nothingness
that you’re afraid to speak into:
that is what must be climbed now.
And as for Ramár: those heights
that birth pride and self-importance
and all-consuming greed for power —
that must be now fallen from.
Follow my tracks in the snow,
they lead up in the snow
they lead up in the snow
I climb what must be climbed.
They lead down in the void,
Down, down in the empty void,
I fall what must be fallen from.
Follow me when you’re ready,
follow me when you’re made for following,
but if you follow without reflection,
how then will the ice melt inside the caverns,
how will the pride and pain melt,
so that you learn the steps to follow me,
find your voice to call after?
Among the journeys I made for others,
the Journeymaker too must journey.
The dragons that coil around my heart
tell me not to neglect my own longing
out of which I have embroidered roads,
stitched lands to each other —
but I will keep you as I journey.
Climbing now, resurrect
all that has been in your heart, coiled
in the emptiness, exhaling fire
in the emptiness, exhaling water that hangs in drops,
multifaceted crystals of your breath.
Let your voice ring out to me
truer than harp and dulcimer:
these mountain drums in the hollows of your body
for our stories to dance against each other
like mating dragons.
Dance truth of what it means to be ourselves,
the one that walks first, the one who follows,
not out of need or obligation or the scintillating rend of desire,
but out of selfhood
pure as water that springs between us, these bonds,
this water that has no meaning beyond itself,
has no speech beyond its own poetry,
syllables scrimshawed upon silence
that stretches between us, catches us into its glittering web
between Ramár and Nimár
I make for you a journey
across this emptiness, to me,
on stepping stones I’ve laid for you
walk between the stars that lie exuberant and bare,
between the voids step carefully.