Nov 292010
 

Here’s a new poem by my friend John Lee who hails from Brantford, Ontario, (Wayne Gretzky’s hometown and the place where Alexander Graham Bell lived while experimenting with early telephones), just fifteen miles down the road from the Glover family farm. “In the Muddy Shoes of Morning” is the title poem of John’s new book, the last of a trilogy, what he calls The Port Dover Trilogy. You may all remember Port Dover from last summer when Jonah and I spent an afternoon at the internet cafe there, also because it is Fred Eaglesmith‘s homebase. Port Dover was once reputed to have the largest fresh water fishing fleet in the world and was famous for its distinctive steel-hulled boats called turtlebacks. My grandfather built a cottage in Port Dover, and I spent a good deal of my growing up time on the beach or in the bars of that town.

This poem is absolutely gorgeous—a giddy couple staggers across a muddy field in the rain, but at the turn, the poet changes keys, softly and gently modulating his poem into a meditation on the ages, on life and death and love. I particularly like the biblical rhythm and reiteration “…the very breath of their going/ and their having gone.

and I think now as I write this poem
of  hundred-thousand-year-old preserved impressions
of a man and a woman
following the almost permanent footprints
to the very breath of their going
and their having gone

say this of me, reader
after the voice-vanish of this life
I felt the joy of foolishness
and in the muddy shoes of morning
saw love

The book, In the Muddy Shoes of Morning, is being released by Hidden Brook Press in December.

dg

In the Muddy Shoes of Morning

By John B. Lee

 

Last night in the dark
we walked mud-blind
crossing the sludgy roadwork
between house and car
and we seemed to find
in the unfrozen ground
of early spring
with every mucky step
the deep wet weight
of a puddleplace
or the clay-heavy suck
of something that wanted our shoes
and we clung together
laughing and yawing
and seeking a way
when earlier in the light
we had simply followed our eyes
over the sure dryness
of a mother-lucky path
but somehow
this sinking-in was far better
this sticky yellowing of shoe soles
feeling an almost toppling
and joyful giddiness
of shared fate
a commingling
as we sank and rose and pitched
like children
over the new-plowed furrows of a rain-soaked field

and I think now as I write this poem
of  hundred-thousand-year-old preserved impressions
of a man and a woman
following the almost permanent footprints
to the very breath of their going
and their having gone

say this of me, reader
after the voice-vanish of this life
I felt the joy of foolishness
and in the muddy shoes of morning
saw love

—John B. Lee

See also “Burning Land.”

  3 Responses to “In the Muddy Shoes of Morning: Poem — John B. Lee”

  1. So nice. Makes me want to throw of my shoes and romp around in the mud. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Mmmm. Love & the joy of foolishness. This poem triggers a yearning, yet comes close to delivering a (vicarious) satisfaction too.

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