November 6, 2012

The Genie

I dwell
In a dark small cell
Turbulent against walls
Constricting smoke and flame,
Fire, essence, into a coal which glows
And gasps to spread, for the expanding green
Billowing flow of love and the upper air.

Taut in myself
Wound hard, contained in flesh,
Identified, bounded, traced - unknown
I am the blood that echoes in a shell
I roil, the surge of ocean wrapped in shore
I roll, a universe kept in a crystal jar,
I am the muted genie pressed within.

I burst
In seed and passion,
In the white of fire
The hoar of ice.  Unfetter me, I cry
And I am spent in tumult before night.
Move, Earth, charred and blackened on the sun
I rise and swell upon such destiny.

Within this verdigris
I twist in torment.
Out, out, or I am buried here,
Lest eons seal my burning into stone -
Quenched into marble, let my age not pass.
Yet pause, hand to the lamp, and know
The furious spirit you are letting go.

        This poem by Ann Stanford somehow seems evocative to me of votes enclosed in ballot-boxes awaiting counting.  Democracy has the power to work miracles, yet is a totally unpredictable force.  (Okay, I know the big-mouth pundits are going nuts in their 24-hour efforts to predict it, but still…)  Genies are known for their ability to accomplish anything, but also for their disturbing tendency to take out their frustrations on the very people who give them their freedom.  That seems suggestive to me.

        Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch to make a connection, but in any case you can simply enjoy the fantasy poem, and then (if you're a US citizen) get to the polls and make your voice count.  We can help influence what kind of genie we'll be.

[Pictures: The fisherman and the genie, illustration by H.J. Ford from The Arabian Nights Entertainments, 1898 (image from Ideas Made of Light);
Aladdin carried by a genie, illustration by Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 19th century (image from Wikimedia Commons);
Aladdin with the wonderful lamp, illustration by Milo Winter from The Arabian Nights Entertainments, 1914 (image from Project Gutenberg).]

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