Cassie Premo Steeleand Tami Cohen

Tami Cohen

Inspiration piece

Five poems
By Cassie Premo Steele

Before You Take That Leap

I see you sometimes, in my dreams. You are younger,
my lover from another time, and I wonder if you were
really freer, less afraid to leap, or if I just remember
it that way. I see it still, so clearly, that day on the boat,
your body about to jump, no worry whether you would float,
only forward motion in the air, aware of gravity as a
partner in the earth and water dance. I stood and watched,
my own ambition still boxed, and admired your willingness
to fail. It has taken me years to bring my skin into the open
like that, to move from dark to sun, transforming gold from pale.

Then It Comes Time to Leave

What we love always leaves– another land, another lover,
another home on which to stand. You left me once, like this,
and I was left with blue sky and high ambition. This is the mood
that muses live to make. You do what you came to do, and
then you leave. You cleave from us, and the place
the splitting makes becomes a scar that we create in paint
or words or melody in our work. It must be a lonely life,
leaving us with pain so we can make something someone
else will like. You must get little gratitude. I imagine your view
on life is somewhat skewed. I am glad I am not you.

After the Fall

Is a waterfall, a feather flying, the muscles of your body
dying because letting go is a kind of little death that leads
to resurrection. No more need for yearning, grasping,
holding on. We all come from a moment like this, one
thing falling, another embracing, one meeting in time
that runs on and on. Time is like this, and so are we.
We keep leaking. Tears, blood, breath, sweat, laughter,
tears again. A tree falls in a forest. A star bends down.
A bird cries out. We are bodies in motion, always waiting
for the fall or falling or waiting to see what comes next.

The Moment It Is Over

You think you have time left, and then you do not. Like a fever,
the sudden flush of ending. Where did the air go, that breeze
you felt September mornings? It is hot in here, and dark.
You cannot breathe. You long for something to muffle
the silence, but it is too late for that. This is something
beyond pain. Beyond escape. It is the end. The final rest.
The conclusion. You feel tricked. All those years. Gone.
An illusion. You remain only a memory, the embrace
of mind from those you left behind. What a waste.
You would give anything for the taste of a kiss again.

What We Have Done

All art is a kind of memory box. We put into it what
we have lost, or fear losing, or refuse to loosen in
our grasp. We get glances of how this works, sometimes,
in foreign places, perhaps, where we are blind
to what has been before. We walk the cobblestones
of the always now and hear the click click click
of memory being made. No wonder most people are so afraid.
Who would choose this endless facing of erasure as a day job?
Everyone fears the shade. Even artists. The only difference
is the joy we take in emerging into sun after we are done.

Response Piece by Tami Cohen


  1. Posted September 4, 2010 at 5:31 am | #

    Love the way each poem takes on some aspect of the process and the tie-in between swimming and creating. These evoke a feeling the feeling of abandon inherent in art. Great work!

  2. Posted September 21, 2010 at 7:10 am | #

    I liked this combo very much. The swimmer, about to leap, and the “reflections” in the, for me, invisible water. Especially liked “What We Have Done” and the depth of “we walk the cobblestones of the always now and hear the click click click of memory being made.” Each poem spoke to me, and I loved the imagery of “a star bends down”.

    One can’t always see what one is leaping into in life, and so I liked the drawing for pinpointing the moment of letting go, because there is always an abyss to be filled, and one can only truly see it when one feels it, or fills it.