Ellery Akers

The Spring 2012 issue of Inquiring Mind arrived recently. It's an odd bird of a publication, a free (largely donation-supported) semiannual tabloid-sized rough-paper collection of essays and advertisements, sketches and meditations. Most of the contents clanked to my ear, but in the middle were a pair of poems by Ellery Akers: "What Rises in the Sea at Night, Rises in Dreams" and "Long Distance: England". Amazing imagery, lovely sentiments — combinations of technology and emotion. They begin:

What Rises in the Sea at Night, Rises in Dreams

"By the time the last light has faded from the sky, the surface layers of the water,
so empty before, are a teeming soup of planktonic animal life."
The Life of the Ocean, N.J. Berrill

Every night the largest migration of animals in the world
rises while we sleep —
arrow worms clear as glass, comb jellies,
salps. When the first sting of sun
strikes the water, they sink back down.
And while I fall asleep, some unlived life
floats toward me,
or parts of myself I pushed down
rise, starved as they are, and scan my eyelids
for some kind of recognition
before they sink into the steep drop-off of the brain.
One night I dreamt I heard a golden tone;
a bell rang, but it was a bell made of krill,
climbing out of blackness so cold it stank of cold.
And in the sea, too, there are bells of jellyfish,
rafts of plankton, pulsing with light, that swim to the surface
and rock back and forth.

... | Long Distance: England

— for Alexander Graham Bell

Somewhere along the line
hail strikes the wire
that holds your voice,
and that wire,
slung between two poles,
sways in the wind.
I think of the men who stood in a steel bucket or climbed those poles.
I think of the poles themselves,
stripped of leaves, standing among live trees
smelling of sap and chlorophyll:
spike after spike stuck in the wood
and still its cells remember the breeze,
though bolted and coated with creosote.
Bell is in this call, too:
his patience during the day,
trying one magnetic strip after another;
his doubt at night,
looking at the moon through a window,
inhaling the smell of dusty curtains.

... |

^z - 2012-08-10