The light that sparkles in the quarry's hole,
Pressing diamonds out of water's coal,
Dresses up the ceiling now the way a blond
Lights her face with jewelry's pond,
Playing all the shadows of a brooch's lyre
To crystallize the room in borrowed fire,
As if every facet of her branded ears
Were mounted in the water's chandeliers,
Stars that scoop out landscapes in a lake
And dimple daylight with the shake
Of leaves, crooked earrings which reflect
The slightest nook and cranny of her neck,
Concentric winds which circle on her face
All the wrinkled character of lace,
Flaws of nature like this shining crack
That catches sun and throws it back,
Minor defects where the day
Stumbles in to ricochet
Like the sky that ripples in her hair,
Drawing mines of mirrors in the air
So my ceiling still is flecked
With pictures that the rocks deflect:
Kindling her body’s jewel,
With the flicker of my eyes for fuel.
I wrote this maybe thirty years ago. It seemed self-evident at the time, but now I think I can contribute an interesting fact or two which might set the scene.
My uncle John Kinkel discovered quartz, maybe in the 1930s, on his farm near the center of Bedford Village in northern Westchester County, now two hours’ drive north of New York City. He gave up farming and managed instead the quartz lode. This enterprise became the American Quartz Company, which, as far as I know, closed after the lode was exhausted. It was next door to the O’Brien farm. John married Katherine O’Brien and became my Uncle John, who sat in his green fuzzy chair and never moved. He was healthy until the day he died at 93. He only died because the doctor stopped feeding him. He wanted to die.
I used to cross the fields behind the O’Brien farm on the village green, past the willows, the ponds, the marsh, climb the hill, and then lower myself down into the Kinkel quarry, which had extraordinary quartz and mica geodes the size of grapefruits. I brought Cathy there around 1978 and wrote this poem for her, although she is no blonde, and not given to jewels. My poems are known for their discretion. Today there is a subdivision at the base of the quarry, which is, however, still surrounded by Emersonian woods. In the old days they seemed to have no end. Today I presume they end.
I didn’t put the poem on a computer until January 18th, 1993.