Nox Oculis

Pattiann Rogers

Pattiann Rogers est née à Joplin, dans le Missouri, et gradua de l'Université du Missouri en 1961. En 1981, elle reçut une maîtrise en arts de l'Université de Houston. Elle enseigna à l'Université du Texas, l'Université du Montana, l'Université du Texas, l'Université Washintion à Saint-Louis et à la Mercer University comme écrivain en résidence. De 1993 à 1997, elle enseigna l'écriture à l'Université de l'Arkansas. Elle est mère de deux garçons, et vit dans le Colorado avec son mari, un géophysicien à la retraite.

Ses ouvrages ont reçu de nombreuses distinctions honorifiques : le prix Tietjens, le prix Roethke, le prix Hokin, le Prix Frederick Bock en 1998, ainsi que cinq prix Pushcart. Elle fut récipiendaire de deux subventions du NEA, un Guggenheim Fellowship et un Poetry Fellowship de la Fondation Lannan. En 2000, elle était en résidence au Rockefeller Foundation's Study and Conference à Bellagio, en Italie.

Ses poèmes sont parus dans The Best American Poetry of 1996, Best Spiritual Writing en 1999, 2000, 2001, et dans de nombreuses anthologies et manuels de poésie dont The Prentice Hall Anthology of Women's Literature, Verse and Universe, Poets of the New Century, The Measured Word (On Poetry and Science), Stand-Up Poetry, The Made Thing, et The Discovery of Poetry.

Another Little God

    You don't know how important it might be --
    the blue-white light from a star like Vega
    caught in the eyedots of nocturnal grass frogs
    and yellow-bellied toads,
    caught in the senses of fishing bats,
    mouse-tailed bats.

    And I can't say either how much
    it might matter -- that same ping of light
    multiplied by each reflective grain
    of crystal sand along a beach
    beside the Gulf,
    held by each slide and scissor
    of beak rushes in a southern marsh.

    Maybe particles and shafts of light
    from Vega penetrate the earth,
    descend through silt and loam,
    touching, even enlivening,
    even partially defining
    the microscopic roots of bellflowers,
    purple vetches and peas,
    the creases and shackles
    of worm snakes and grubs.

    The translucent eggs of the plumed moth,
    the fins of the redbelly dace might need
    a star's blue-white light,
    like water, like air.

    Breath might require it,
    breathing starlight into the heart.

    You don't know.

    After all, we've never lived without it.

    If starlight spears through each oily
    sperm link of reedbuck and potto,
    if it enters every least bulb
    of snow flea, wheel bug, hay louse,
    if it corridors through all bone crystals,
    around each spurl and bole
    of the brain, inside timbre and voice,
    piercing the whole stone and space
    of believe, then,

    if only for one complete name
    under the sky tonight,

    lie still and remember.

    Pattiann Rogers

Before the Beginning : Maybe God and a Silk Flower Concubine Perhaps

    The white sky is exactly the same white
    stone as the white marble of the transparent
    earth, and the moon with its clear white
    swallow makes of its belly of rock neither
    absence nor presence.

    The stars are not syllables yet enunciated
    by his potential white tongue, its vestigial
    lick a line that might break eventually,
    a horizon curving enough to pronounce
    at last, my love.

    The locked and frigid porcelain barrens
    and hollows of the descending black plain
    are a pattern of gardens only to any single
    blind eye blinking, just as a possible stroke
    of worm, deaf with whiteness, might hear
    a lace bud of silk meridians spinning
    and unraveling simultaneously on the vacuous
    beds of the placeless firmament.

    An atheist might believe in the seductive
    motion turning beneath the transparent gown
    covering invisibly the nonexistent bones
    and petals of no other. Thus the holy blossom,
    spread like the snow impression of a missing
    angel, doubts the deep-looped vacancy
    of her own being into which god, in creation,
    must assuredly come.

    Is it possible there might be silver seeds
    placed deep between those legs opening
    like a parting of fog to reveal the plunging salt
    of a frothy sea? But god digresses, dreaming
    himself a ghost, with neither clamor nor ectasy,
    into inertia, his name being farther
    than ever from time.

    Static on the unendurably boring white
    sheet of his own plane, he must think hard
    toward that focus of conception when he can rise
    shuddering, descending and erupting into the beauty
    and fragrance of their own makng together --
    those flowering orange -- scarlet layers and sun --
    shocking blue heavens of, suddenly, one another.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de Song of the World Becoming : New and Collected Poems 1981-2001

Data from This Line of Light Laboratory

    This particular line of light
    is the angle of the black mare's
    neck as she bends to the evening
    grasses. It is the same angle
    composing the history
    of the trajectory remaining
    in the comet's wake, the same
    angle inherent to the salt curve
    of the wave falling into its fall.

    The jiggling gold ball on the jester's
    pointed hat is the shaking line
    of circular light that occurs
    whenever the king sits crying.
    This line is similar to the sunside
    circle of the orange tossed up
    by the juggler so high its only being
    is its fire shaking against the sky.
    It is akin also to the trembling
    the light makes in the tears
    of the childless at night.

    One certain light of line-clarity
    is a single strand of cobweb
    floating as its own sun across
    the lawn. Another is the crack
    in a cut crystal vase so fine
    it is seen only when held
    to the sky, which fine clarity
    sounds like a violin replicating
    the liquid line left by the sea's
    advance on the moonlit sand.

    This line of illumination was created
    when thieves first forced the sealed
    entrance to a desert tomb and starlight
    fell at once straight to its stone floor.

    Light lines of double vision
    imply either parallel light
    off the tines of silver pickle forks
    or off the steel of railroad tracks
    empty at high noon on the prairie,
    or the sun divided in the vision
    of the surface-floating whirligig
    beetle, or the day divided
    by the separately rotating eyes
    of the vine green chameleon.

    Two lines of light bisecting
    at right angles can signify either
    two search beams crossing at sea,
    or a collision of sincerity and ruse
    at the subatomic level, or hope,
    or an apparition of hope created
    by those investigating every sign
    of light at any level.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de Song of the World Becoming : New and Collected Poems 1981-2001

Fossil Texts on Canyon Walls (extraits)

    1. Astrophysical Dynamics

    There are fables and legends written
    right on my bones, on the red grain
    of my bones, visible plots, subplots,
    captures and escapes, as decipherable
    as black ink fictions scribed
    on rolled parchments.
    And finely needled tattooes-inked
    permanently in trumpet creepers,
    jungle canopies, moon-webs of winter,
    bellflowers of blood-compose the inner
    bowl of my skull. Ancient missas
    and pre-earth percussions are recorded
    inside every knuckle, engraved on the turns
    and curls of my ankles and wrists.
    By the spine, I am epic, its staff
    and sway. I am an oratorio
    of skeleton, an ave of stance. I bear
    by body the chamber concert of birth,
    the well-worn recital of death.
    It's possible then for me
    to sink also, a myth of sun buried,
    and to rise again on earth, a parable
    spoken in stone on a canyon wall.
    I could truly relent now
    as if I believed bone were rock and rock
    light and all boldering stars were fossils
    of canyon histories, as if I knew stellar
    stories were simply constellations
    of the body and living blood were symphony,
    all motions intergalactic, interheart,
    just the same and as easy to negotiate
    as the swing and pulse I might make
    from one ringing refrain to the next.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de Weber Studies, Winter 1997 : 14(1)

If the Moon Appeared Only Once Every Ten Years

    There would be moon parades held everyday
    for twelve days before that night,
    white horses with glass moons clinking
    on their bridles, riders in moon-cloud
    gowns led by mimes marching and spinning
    with gold auras around silver-sequined
    moon faces. Moon parties would be in progress
    all over town, milky moon drinks, white
    chocolate bon bon moons, everyone throwing
    foil streamers designed to catch
    and reflect the most moonlight possible
    in their flying spirals.

    Platforms with marble steps and ivory
    pedestals would be built on country
    hillsides to provide the powerful and wealthy
    with the best positions for the longest
    viewing, their white porcelain spyglasses
    ready to point heavenward.

    By law: no artificial light (neon, bulb
    or flame) allowed to burn anywhere
    during The Hours of the Moon.

    Like an ecstatic sailor shouts "Land, land,"
    from his gyrating crow’s nest, who might be
    the first among the crowds gathered
    on the mountaintops to shout, "Moon, moon,"
    as the buttery orange rim of that beautiful globe
    first appears over the edge of the plains ?
    One five-layer creamy moon cake for a prize.

    Then squealing children, playing
    "Catch the Moon" across open lawns,
    would make circles with their arms,
    holding them toward the sky to try
    to capture that hard sugar button.

    I believe, I believe in the medicinal
    powers of the moon. Place all the impaired
    naked on white blankets to moonbathe
    in its healing balm.

    No one anywhere would sleep
    all night long on that night. And think
    how happy you and I would be, lying
    on the silver-gray grass, me kissing
    your moon-kissed lips, you kissing
    my moon-colored ear, and all of us
    surrounded, every one of us—all bird
    and lizard wings, spiny fish wings,
    glass moth and bee wings, every cheetah
    fang, siren and salmander eye, sickle
    bill and sword bill, all coils
    of fiddlehead ferns and wind-tattered
    fronds, all grains of gorges, river
    spumes and spittles, each slightest
    snow flicker of the earth—all of us
    together baptized and redeemed as one
    in the wash and surf of that rare, now
    so properly esteemed, marvelling light.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de Wordwrights #8, Fall 1996

Life in an Expanding Universe (extraits)

    It’s not only all those cosmic
    pinwheels with their charging solar
    luminosities, the way they spin around
    like the paper kind tacked to a tree trunk,
    the way they expel matter and light
    like fields of dandelions throwing off
    waves of summer sparks in the wind,
    the way they speed outward,
    receding, creating new distances
    simply by soaring into them.

    (...) And though there isn’t a method
    to measure it yet, by finding
    a golden-banded skipper on a buttonbrush,
    by seeing a blue whiptail streak
    through desert scrub, by looking up
    one night and imagining the fleeing
    motions of the stars themselves, I know
    my presence must swell one flutter-width
    wider, accelerate one lizard-slip farther,
    descend many stellar-fathoms deeper
    than it ever was before.(...)

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de EarthLight #37, Spring 2000

Millennium Map of the Universe by the National Geographic Society

    It's a beautiful heaven, shining aqua
    arrangements on black, scattered
    chips of pure turquoise, gold, sterling
    white, ruby sand; dimmer clouds
    of glowing stellar dust ; beads
    like snow, like irregular pearls.

    Last week, I thought this heaven was
    god's body burning, as in the burning
    bush never consumed, sudden flarings
    of the omnipresence, the coal tips
    of god's open hand, the brilliance of god's
    streaming hair, the essence of grace
    in flames, the idea of creation illuminated.
    I believed each form of light and darkness
    in that combustion was the glorious
    art of god's body on fire, the only
    possible origin of such art. Maybe god's
    body remains invisible until it ignites
    into its beginning. I could almost detect
    the incense rising from that transfiguration.

    But yesterday I believed it to be music,
    the circling and spiraling of sound
    in a pattern of light, a pattern I might
    begin to perceive, each note, each count
    and measure of the concert in progress
    being visible, constellations of chords,
    geysers of scales, the bell-like lyricism
    of overlapping revolutions and orbits, deep
    silent pauses of vacancy, as we might
    expect, among the swells and trills,
    the cacophony of timpani, the zinking
    of strings. Yesterday this seemed
    a reasonable thought, a pleasing
    thought. It seemed possible.

    Today, I see it is all signal numbers,
    static and spate: the sun, 25,000 light --
    years from the center of "our galactic
    realm," around which we travel once
    every 200 million years, you understand.
    I don't resist the calculated mass of "our
    supercluster." I don't deny those 100
    trillion suns of our suns among which
    we pass, turning over and over day
    after night after day. The last "outpost"
    in our cluster, before a desert cosmic
    void begins, is named Virgo. I stop there
    for rest and provisions, to water the horses,
    pour oats in their trough, to cradle my child.

    I wish I could sing like electrons
    on a wheel. I wish I could burn
    like god.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de The Gettysburg Review, Spring 2000 : 13(2)

Place and Proximity

    I'm surrounded by stars. They cover me completely like an invisible silk veil full of sequins. They touch me, one by one, everywhere-hands, shoulders, lips, ankle hollows, thigh reclusions.

    Particular in their presence, like rain, they come also in streams, in storms. Careening, they define more precisely than wind. They enter, cheekbone, breastbone, spine, skull, moving out and in and out, through like threads, like weightless grains of beads in their orbits and rotations, their ritual passages.

    They are the luminescence of blood and circuit the body. They are showers of fire filling the dark, myriad spaces of porous bone. What can be nearer to flesh than light ?

    And I swallow stars. I eat stars. I breathe stars. I survive on stars. They sound precisely, humming in my nose, in my throat, on my tongue. Stars, stars.

    They are above me suspended, drifting, caught in the loom of the elm, similarly enmeshed in my hair. They are below me straight down in the deep. I am immersed in stars. I swim through stars, their swells and currents. I walk on stars. They are less, they are more, even than water even than earth.

    They come with immediacy. They are as bound to me as history. No knife, no death can part us.

    Pattiann Rogers, tiré de Eating Bread and Honey (1997)

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