Continued...Robert Mueller / Review Charles Pierre on Time
Concurrent with personal limitations that may apply to each and all is the topic of the watch. It is hardly a trivial item. Pierre takes the image of the watch in the young man’s hand to a different length. An emblem for the temporal theme, it is a way of introducing concerns that the poem will define, but also a piece of the construction, resembling as mentioned an ecosystem, in the evident and elusive guise of postponing one’s departure from a nearby world, worlds. So nothing is to be left out; nothing is to get in the way of the poem’s pleasure. That it gives pleasure so surely is the indicator of its persuasive methods in terms of their facticity, the attention to detail, an inspired inspection beyond the holds of reflection. The thin fingers, the vest, and the braided chain and stem stretching across to his Father’s chest prove that what the poet cares to enframe in his past really happened. As of years, the dating is exact, and as of the time on the watch, the timing would be fixed in exact proportion to the achievement of the depiction. To reiterate, nothing is left out that it would seem must not be left out for the poem to achieve the end that an achieved awareness of time, in terms of its familiar guarding against inaction, promises. The poem shows its adherence to ecosystem and external look bearing up under the evidence not in flashes but in a carefully rounded temperament. So the individual in the photo, in line with the outwardly directed framing, need not be described further than in noting his “fresh face”. The poem needs further only a notation on the bloom of youth: “I am now more than three times the age of Father / in that photo ...”. The whole of that statement offers clear and indirect direction, as well as especial contextualization as of a true temporal measuring, but in a logical sense. Time measured “across a century” crashes triumphantly the cause célèbre of its final motive.
Rounding again the timekeeping from the other direction, we find in the collection of poems from ten years ago, published at the herein recurring date of 2010 (Brief Intervals of Harmony, Finishing Line Press), the poem “Vespers”, hence of time addressed in the plural. In this poem Pierre observes, and indeed reflects upon, himself having an awareness of the temporal tracking that, in this case, supplies the setting forth and continuation of the poet’s seeking. One way to understand the effect of time on an individual’s thoughts is to keep account of the before and after of a melody as it is heard. The tuneful and temporal melodies of “Vespers” are its backtracking and perceptual tasking; and as well they are, as it turns out, its music:
An organ swells with muted assurance,
haunting the late vacancy of Sunday
with sound that fills the short distance
between me and the corner cathedral,
the air above its sculpted spires alive
with starlings in flight against the sky,
where sun washes their wings in silver,
then burnishes the turning mass to red,
the rhythmic pattern flown repeatedly,
until dim light returns the birds to earth,
where the faithful, joined in the music
of vespers, leave their bright chapel
for this dusky street, to walk at ease
among the deepening city shadows,
the whole congregation moving as one,
gliding around me like a gentle wing,
holding me in the comfort of its fold
as we pass along the lamp-lit sidewalk,
the scuff of shoes on concrete hushed
by somber tones of the recessional.
Here is where the tricky part comes in, and the many subtleties. Successive nows keep track of before and after. The now is the limit of the passage within the participation in the events, but the now is not an entity that the percipient appraiser of its momentum can grasp hold of. The poet’s level of understanding is so great, nonetheless, that succession, along with recurrence, charts the direction of the poem, such that here as in “Circle in Time” the realization of its subject, the commemorative aspects of a time in the plural with the chants and improvisations filling the house of pleasures called vespers, is the poem’s tracing and system-building, light to the touch but far from circumspect. Thus the poet meditates as he moves, as he walks along and takes his course leading away from the recessional as he is led along, except that it is not just his tuning of the temporal succession into a rich awareness, but further the awareness of his accompaniment. He seems to keep time with a gentle spirit as he proceeds, for a full five lines worth of genial tracing. The final course of the poem takes its cues, musically, from the recessional that in turn becomes a forward-looking procession. Again, nothing is left out in time’s near and present recording. The starlings against the sky read for the poet that temporal reality that it is impossible to know, unless as here none of the relevant details is left out, and the beautiful knowing of how “sun washes their wings in silver”, and of “the turning mass to red”, persuades us that time is and how it is, time that cannot be known as such.
At every turn Charles Pierre shows how astute he is at picking out relations. He captures vespers in their airing, interlacing the threads of the noticeable and the impressionable. Where as here “moving” is the topic that ushers in the proper understanding of time in a gliding, comforting, companionable uptake, the awareness is so obviously integrated into an achieved realization of time that from the sum of the occasion’s blessings no available compass is left wanting and none of the melodies of “Vespers” is left unheard.