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Black Lace

Katherine Solomon read this smoldering collage of color and sound at last April's
Hoot at Café Espresso.    - - JP

            Black Lace

Did you see that chimney fire
I had last night, the flames quivering,
so passionate for the sky, the smoke

blacker than old chirping dreams
of love-how it choked me awake
just in time to close the damper down?

Did you see the burning bits
blown past the window turn to bats
before they burst apart?

Charred flakes, black lace:
My whole winter songbook of longing.

    -- Katherine Solomon

On the face of it, "Black Lace" seems a mysterious poem. From a chimney fire to a songbook of longing-how did the speaker get there? Whose voice is this anyway?
And what situation is this voice coming from? Rather than worry over the literal questions posed in the poem, a few oral readings might help us tune in to the smoky music here. The cacophonous "ks" of "quivering," "sky," "smoke," "blacker," "awake," and "close," combined with "chirping" "choked" and "Charred" support the images they carry: crackling fire and suffocating passion. The alliterative imagery of love "dreams" and closing the "damper down," followed by the "burning bits blown" by the window, turning to "bats before burst(ing)," and that "black" lace evoke an amorphous realm of pent-up desire exploding into a cascade of erotic sparks. A long winter's half waking, dreaming, secret yearning bursts into flames. Burning bits of char become flying bats on the night sky; charred flakes, like black lace, float on the freezing air. Do you see the fire now? Feel the heat? Can you find your voice in that old winter songbook of longing?

"Black Lace" copyright 2004 by Katherine Solomon. Katherine has been published in numerous reviews; her poems have also been anthologized in Orpheus & Company: Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology,and Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets. She is the author of Tempting Fate, a chapbook in the "Walking to Windward" series from Oyster River Press.

Please note that the Poetry Hoot is on the first Wednesday of every month at Cafe Espresso in the 800 Plaza, Portsmouth, NH.  Note: Poems submitted to this column should not exceed nineteen lines.