The Choir

The choir begins to sink.
Their robes cling to them as they submerge,
giving them the appearance of unusually godly torpedoes.

From their practiced throats, come tiny notes encased in air
as light as devotion.

this choir, like all instruments of deity,
is subject to that old bugaboo, the same one that always comes along:
The deeper they go,
the less those on the surface understand 

Originally written in 1980 as part of a series of poems I wrote in reaction to having read Russell Edson's "The Wounded Breakfast." I have rewritten it today for the prompt at Toads.

And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him,
He said, "All men shall be sailors then, until the sea shall free them." --Leonard Cohen


Gillena Cox said…
Thanks for your response Shay. i'm glad you included the note. Your words are sheer magic. I also went to Poemhunter and read Russell Edson's "The Wounded Breakfast.

much love...
brudberg said…
As always those on the the top have no clue why they are floating... kind of a Ponzi scheme.
Cloudia said…
Magical, inducive of dream imagery and musing.....
Anonymous said…
A choir of sirens, I presume. Also a collection of depressions. It's hard to be deep without most of the time feeling close to a drowning.

"From their practiced throats, come tiny notes encased in air
as light as devotion." What a magical description of bubbles. You've made death come across as so beautiful. Something to envy. Even if it's a living death. I also see a little bit of death worship here. Finding the beauty in it, the sacrifice, or the giving up. The calling for others to go with you, if they can even understand you.

This reminds me of all those depressed and suicidal poets, going under, day after day, despite their remarkable talents and gifts to the world. Also, very few people can really even understand their work ... completely, you know.

Too, these poets are even clinging to God, or at least battling their confusion over spiritual matters, as they go down. I don't think you can be deep without being at least part devil. So if you are also part angel, you will destroy your own mind just about every day of your life ... whether you write or not. In fact, the music, the poems, the words ... may make everything worse rather than better. Sleeping, even if under water, may be the only thing that can make it all stop.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Oh, yes. Not much depth apparent for those on the surface these days. I love your closing lines.
I'm particularly captivated by the 'unusually godly torpedos'.
hedgewitch said…
I seem to see a light burning underwater far out of my reach or my understanding, but the shine of it, its impossible existence, is a sort of comfort, even separated, even from the distant shore. Beautiful, peaceful and knowing poem, Shay.
hedgewitch said…
PS also my favorite leonard cohen
Outlawyer said…
A lovely poem, Shay. I've read bits of Russell Edson, small bits--and am going to look for that book. I love the idea of taking this central image and moving on with it in this slightly surreal but very apt and real way--thanks. k.
Maude Lynn said…
"unusually godly torpedoes"
That's going to stay with me all day.
Kerry O'Connor said…
You stir many unusual images with these lines. Very intriguing perspective.
Debi Swim said…
That ending is perfect
Stacie Eirich said…
I could chart my life by the choirs I've sang in...and so for me this poem felt personal, I could feel my practiced throat creating the notes -- and yes, often in sacred tones and worship-ful phrases. Even when I wasn't sure who or what or if I was worshipping. Singing is a practice, like writing, that causes us to dig deeper into ourselves and also look outside. The image of being an "instrument of deity" is both humbling and troubling at the same time -- the "rippling song" comforting but yet not--somehow signifying an unevenness of breath...I have so many thoughts on this! Thanks for sharing. Oh-Last I have to say Cool! to the image of "ungodly torpedoes" to singers in choir robes. Won't forget that one next time I slip one on. ;)