Grass by John W. Sexton
by Steven McCabe
Along my flanks edges of me are cool
in the shadows of the trees. The rest of me
is out in the sun, brightly green. I’m green
everywhere, except when I’m not; but even in
the withering of me there’s a memory
My name is synonymous with green
and like that colour I’m innocence itself.
Everything comes to me for everything comes
to the floor, and I’m the floor of everywhere.
Even beneath the sea you’ll find a version
of me. But most of the time you’ll find me here,
wherever you happen to be. I’ll be waiting. I remain
here for everyone. It is said I cover the dead, and actually
I do. But I much prefer the living.
And the living I live
for most is my darling love. She steps barefoot onto me,
walks my length. I feel myself cooling under each step.
Then she undresses and begins to lie down.
First I feel the shadow of her shape, and then
her shape. I could grow into this. Usually I do.
Previously published in Census 2 – From the collection The Offspring of the Moon, Salmon Poetry
John W. Sexton’s mind was poured into his body in 1958; since then his life has been dedicated to poetry.
The photo of the grass I wove into some of my digital compositions is from Wikipedia Commons. Credit Marcus Obal, 2007. I am manipulating this image under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
The sensuality of grass beautifully expressed in many ways.
Hi Karen, thank you for your thoughts…The poem took me into a world of living grass… your sensual perception of the poem and images wakes me up to memories of springtime as a boy…huge piles of snow beginning to melt and vivid grass stirring beneath a half foot of water…green wavy life ready to spring up.
Excellent, Steven. Getting lost in your images like a seas of grass. I like how some of the images begin to look like thunderstorms. Maybe that is a product of where I live, seeing them that way. Grass and thunderstorms. And the luminescence of the grass explaining back its photosynthesis. Feeding the world the sun. Is it possible the land shares with us (an aspect) the face of God?
Hi Jack, thank you for your thoughts… I am captured by this idea of the sea of grass…more perceptions about grass… And the thunderstorms…seem have drifted from Ireland across to Canada, westward…and down to you…and back again…carrying new sounds, new images, new words…
while reading John’s poem I began perceiving the sensibilities of grass…sensing grass as an intelligent, creative being with a secret life – like those ants that, unseen, tunnel down hundreds of feet…in this case being, as you say, a living, monumental sea on the land…physical and etherial at once…with the face of Blake’s eternity…
I really like the tenderness of your interpretation – the images really remind me of my semi-rural childhood.
Thank you Richard for your thoughts about the interpretation, I had also a semi rural childhood for a good 12 years, lots of fields and hills and ‘woods.’ Maybe these things stay with one. Maybe that worked itself in here as an emotional response to the poem.
This may be one of my favorites Steven… exquisitely capturing complexity and simplicity both. They make my heart sing!
(I just noticed that your last two posts didn’t show up in my Reader….it’s been peculiar lately. Blah…)
Thank you Jana, I’m glad your heart is singing and I must say my heart was singing too…while burrowing into the poem and flying out for an aerial view…and then getting into the ‘digital’ grass.
Sorry to hear that about the reader. I don’t know exactly how it works.
reading, looking i am grass i lay softly down on, a child naked in summer heat mothered in the scent of hay, i am the long penetrating grass i lay my lover on, adolescent in bees and clover, and in meadows of time passing rolling with wife and child, laughing at the grasses tickling and then the final field resisted projecting the unknown dark, damp earth beneath the grass, becoming grass again, forever…
evocative poem and images Steven in the greening of my night…thank you
John thank you for sharing how you have been in, have gone into, have felt and perceived the grass through all the phases of life.
Just love the ‘greening of my night’ …
Thank you Steven, and thank you everyone for the comments. The idea of grass as an individual and separate consciousness has appeared in my work before (two of the poems in question being elegies: “A Hymn for Allen Ginsberg” and “invocation of intercession to the earthly angels”. My interest in grass came about from a dream I once had where I was actually grass, or part of the spirit of grass, and after the dream faded (where I was granted some insight into my grassy condition) I took it to mean that I had once lived in a previous life as grass. The dream was vivid and immediate, and on waking I lay in bed for ages, with the after-thought of grass still imminent in me. John W. Sexton
Thank you John for this illumination about your poem. It adds a lot to my understanding of the textures and meaning not to mention how green the voice truly is.