The Rock
Henri Cole

Postcards published by Karma, New York, 2020

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It’s nice to have a lake to love me,
that can see under all my disguises—
where there is only animal survival
and the brutality of the unconscious—
and still love me and give me focus
and intensity, like a robin listening
to dirt for worms (those birds have talents
I don’t: flying around with one eye closed
and half their brain asleep).
I like to swim (with no goggles, cap, or board)
out where I can see, high up, the white cedars,
and beyond that only the della Robbia blue.
On the other shore, a white pelican sits
on a rock, and, sometimes, feeding him—
beside the sign that says: DO NOT FEED THE PELICAN—
I think about all the dogmas and traditions
which are like well-made beds, with fitted sheets
and tucked-in hospital corners, to die in.

On my rock, it’s as if everything is lit from below
or from within. There’s no hierarchy
with pelican, water, rock, cedar, sky, and me.
A sense that all’s right in the world prevails there—
and some kind of rock language,
with crude dents pressing my flesh,
and little fishes kissing my submerged feet.

Published on the occasion
of the exhibition at

5 Gkoura Street
Athens 10558

September 10–December 11, 2020

Edition of 3,000

Copyright © 2015 by Henri Cole.
Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.