THE BAY OF WRITING
by David Mason
And I with only a reed in my hands.
— George Seferis
The reed, dried and cut, could make a pan-pipe
on an idle day. I say the word again,
kalamus, that early pen, from breezy
leaf to leaves of nervy writing—Sappho,
Archilochos, their fingering lines,
a silent music till our voices find it.
In retrospect I walk among those trees,
polled mulberries no longer home to silkworms,
the crone-like olives, upright cypresses
above the hammered metal of the bay
called Kalamitsi. There the lazy hours
watching the ant roads through the summer straw
taught me the frantic diligence of mind,
the way it ferries breadcrumbs and small seeds
fast fast to its storehouse in reedy shade.
The way the hand rests on an open book
I’ve disappeared into, takes up a pen
and traces letters in a trail of words.
Kalamus, Kalasmitsi, bay of reeds,
music of everything I have not written.
* * *
Updated from the publisher’s Web site:
David Mason was Poet Laureate of Colorado from 2010-2014. His books of poems include The Buried Houses (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), The Country I Remember (winner of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award), and Arrivals. His verse-novel, Ludlow, won the Colorado Book Award in 2007, and was named Best Poetry Book of the year by the Contemporary Poetry Review and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It was also featured on the PBS NewsHour. Mason is the author of an essay collection, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry, and a memoir, News from the Village, which appeared in 2010. A new collection of essays, Two Minds of a Western Poet, followed in 2011. He recently won the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion Prize for the development of a new libretto. A former Fulbright fellow to Greece, he lives near the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and teaches at Colorado College.
For a more detailed biographical note, click here.
To read the George Seferis poem David’s epigraph is drawn from, click here.