GEODE

The light that sparkles in the chasm’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
Which 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:

Quarrying her body’s jewel
With the angles of my eye 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
1930’s, on his farm near the center of Bedford village in
Northern Westchester County, now two hours 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. Poetry should be known for its
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 computer until January 18th,
1993.