Poem, Lynda Hull

So I was curious about this poet, Lynda Hull, because she’s a favorite of one of my favorites–Virginia Chase Sutton.  So I went to The Poetry Foundation and found the poem “Tide of Voices“:


At the hour the streetlights come on, buildings

turn abstract.  The Hudson, for a moment, formal.

We drink bourbon on the terrace and you speak

FayeWhitePhotos @ Etsy
FayeWhitePhotos @ Etsy

in the evening voice, weighted deep in the throat.

They plan to harvest oysters, you tell me,

from the harbor by Jersey City, how the waters

will be clean again in twenty years.  I imagine nets

burdened with rough shells, the meat dun and sexual.

Below, the river and the high rock

where boys each year jump from bravado

or desperation.  The day flares, turns into itself.

And innocently, sideways, the way we always fall

into grace or knowledge, we watched the police

drag the river for a suicide, the third this year.

the terrible hook, the boy’s frail whiteness.

His face was blank and new as your face

in the morning before the day has worked

its pattern of lines and tensions.  A hook

like an iron question and this coming

out of the waters, a flawed pearl–

a memory that wasn’t ours to claim.

Perhaps, in a bedroom by lamplight,

a woman waits for this boy.  She may riffle drawers

gathering photographs, string, keys to abandoned rooms.

Even now she may be leaving,

closing the door for some silence.  I need

to move next to you.  Water sluiced

from the boy’s hair.  I need to watch you

light your cigarette, the flickering

of your face in matchlight, as if underwater,

drifting away.  I take your cigarette

and drag from it, touch your hand.

Remember that winter of your long fever,

the winter we understood how fragile

any being together was.  The wall sweated

behind the headboard and yo9u said you felt

the rim where dreams crouch

and every room of the past.  It must begin in luxury–

do you think–a break and fall into the glamour

attending each kind of surrender.  Water must flood

the mind, as in certain diseases, the walls

between the cells of memory dissolve, blur

into a single stream of voices and faces.

I don’t know any more about this river or if

it can be cleaned of its tenders and broken histories–

a tide of voices.  And this is how the dead

rise to us, transformed: wet and singing,

the tide of voices pearling in our hands.

—-Lynda Hull


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