Arts and Activism
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Rolling Naked in the Morning Dew
by Pattiann Rogers
Out among the wet grasses and wild barley-covered
Meadows, backside, frontside, through the white clover
And feather peabush, over spongy tussocks
And shaggy-mane mushrooms, the abandoned nests
Of larks and bobolinks, face to face
With vole trails, snail niches, jelly
Slug eggs; or in a stone-walled garden, level
With the stemmed bulbs of orange and scarlet tulips,
Cricket carcasses, the bent blossoms of sweet william,
Shoulder over shoulder, leg over leg, clear
To the ferny edge of the goldfish pond--some people
Believe in the rejuvenating powers of this act--naked
As a toad in the forest, belly and hips, thighs
And ankles drenched in the dew-filled gulches
Of oak leaves, in the soft fall beneath yellow birches,
All of the skin exposed directly to the killy cry
Of the kingbird, the buzzing of grasshopper sparrows,
Those calls merging with the dawn-red mists
Of crimson steeplebush, entering the bare body then
Not merely through the ears but through the skin
Of every naked person willing every event and potentiality
Of a damp transforming dawn to enter.
Lillie Langtry practiced it, when weather permitted,
Lying down naked every morning in the dew,
With all of her beauty believing the single petal
Of her white skin could absorb and assume
That radiating purity of liquid and light.
And I admit to believing myself, without question,
In the magical powers of dew on the cheeks
And breasts of Lillie Langtry believing devotedly
In the magical powers of early morning dew on the skin
Of her body lolling in purple beds of bird's-foot violets,
Pink prairie mimosa. And I believe, without doubt,
In the mystery of the healing energy coming
From that wholehearted belief in the beneficent results
Of the good delights of the naked body rolling
And rolling through all the silked and sun-filled,
Dusky-winged, sheathed and sparkled, looped
And dizzied effluences of each dawn
Of the rolling earth.
Just consider how the mere idea of it alone
Has already caused me to sing and sing
This whole morning long.
Pattiann Rogers has published six books of poetry, including Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems, and her most recent collection Eating Bread and Honey, both published by Milkweed Editions. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Poetry Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. She lives in Castle Rock, Colorado. For more information about Pattiann, please visit her website. Pattiann is a regular participant in The Orion Society's Forgotten Language Tour.
If you'd like to order these books (and others), please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.
This poem was originally published in the Autumn 1994 issue of Orion. To order a copy of this issue, please visit The Orion Society Marketplace, call (413) 528-4422, write The Orion Society, 195 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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