Western Voices: Dave Norris

David Norris lived in Asia from 1985 until 2015, dividing his time between Japan and South Korea. Most of those years, he resided in Seoul, where he lectured in writing and literature for the University of Maryland University College Asia on US military bases all around the peninsula. His work has appeared in The Chariton Review, Taproot Literary Review, Poetry San Francisco, USA Deep South, The Dan River Anthology and Duane’s PoeTree. David was born in the small town of Covington, Virginia, way up in the Alleghany Mountains. He left when he was 20 and has been traveling ever since.

Mr. Gordon, I Had to Tell

Do you remember Whitman’s poem of
the he bird and the she bird on Paumonok’s shore?
Have you ever seen a man with that sadness in his eyes?
She will always be there,
Behind the crow’s lines, the circles
Deep within the orb itself.

Once, I saw a man die grieving over a woman.
He was an old mountain man.
He and she had come from another time.
His eyes turned muddy.
They never cleared again, were always

filled with tears, as his thoughts floated inward.
The lower lid drooped.
A moat of longing surrounded each castle.
His Rapunzel with the long hair,
his mother of his children,

Every day he rocked in his chair
Every day he wanted to follow her

As he sat in in his chair in the front yard,
the trees spoke to him. In the fall, the small
leaves rattled their messages to him
while the maple put on her red robe,
the same color as the one she had worn
every morning of their last year.

She cooked him biscuits and gravy on Saturdays.
Saturdays held special memories.
They would go to town together, ride the bus and sit
close to one another.  He would whisper secrets in her ear.
The whispering in the leaves helped him through summer,
their green dance in the evenings.
Have you ever lain awake in bed and listened
to a summer maple before a sudden storm?

We knew he would pass on when winter came,
his tracks disappear in the snow.
The bed was too big he complained.
He couldn’t stay warm without her.
The chill just wouldn’t leave the sheets.
The Cranes Turned Inward

My mamma knew she was leaving
this world when the special earrings
I had bought her, the golden cranes,
sculpted and placed upon a field
of smoky topaz, the ones that
hung elegantly from her ears,
complementing her auburn hair,
turned on their chains and faced inward.

When she told me over the phone,
across the ocean between us,
a cold wind blew upon my back.
The windows in my house turned black.
In the morning, I left and drove
to Mount Sorak on Korea’s East Coast.
That evening, I watched the sun
set, the mountains in front of me,

the waves behind, me calling me.
I sat on the beach all night long.
In the morning, I climbed
to the top of the mountain.
For many hours, I sat, eating chestnuts,
watching a pair of Ruby Throats
flitting among the gold and red
leaves, preparing themselves to fly

away from the approaching winter.
As sunset neared, I slowly returned
to my car. On the long drive back,
my mother’s sweet whisky-filled voice
spoke to me. “Those beautiful earrings
that you bought for me, the ones I so
dearly love, the symbols of a long life,
have somehow turned around backwards.

The cranes face inward. I took them
to the jeweler yesterday. He says he
cannot fix them, does not know how
to make them face outward again.
You know I love to watch the birds
here in Virginia. I am sure
you can remember the red birds
that live in the woods behind our house.

She was gone in six months.

Frozen in Time

Love is an animal with soft fur
Love has many children in every place
Love is old and barren, a silent face

My children were once in your eyes
My dreams were your fingers
A bird's quiet flight, a leaf in wind
Our love will not come again

1 comment :

  1. Nice long narrative with emotions overpowering the thought.


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