Night Vision by Christopher Levenson

As a preview of our First Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Night Vision, a collection of Christopher Levenson’s poetry.

excerpt from “Fifteen Nocturnes”

1
Evening lies fallow: afternoon’s harvest of noise
has been gathered in, sheaves of sunlight stowed
in a dark barn. The estuary’s glutted with gold,
the total sky august, mysterious.

2
Textures of light; beyond
an elusive flotsam of cloud
richer darkness prevails
among the salt marshes, extends
deserted shorelines.

3
The skies grow lucid,
jet trails ruffle then merge
into mares’ tails, cirrostratus.
High winds up there. Down here
after a close day, relief.
Our local park’s staked out
with panels of shadow.
A few lamps cautiously peer
into encroaching darkness.
Come what may, I am at ease
making my peace with night.

*

excerpt from “Habitat”

for Moshe Safdie and in memory of Lewis Mumford

Prologue

Once everything was distance: as a kid in my London suburb
anywhere else was a house of postcards, balanced
precariously on the words of my father’s friends
who came as refugees burdened with stories from Hamburg,
Vienna, Berlin, their desperate homelands, self-stored
‘for the duration’. It took till I was eighteen
to find my own way, to know what ‘city’ meant,
a knowledge that grows within me like rings in a tree
into my age. Now I can turn at will,
wheel back those days when first I explored alone
Munich or Amsterdam, felt on my tongue
the bitter dust of the Balkans, the desolation
of Djakarta’s slums or Delhi’s,
or the high of my first sighting
of Vancouver and San Francisco, knowing myself to be
part of this city, that era, a succession of nights,
a pulsing anagram of the places I lived through
that strobe my body with memories. Their details re-jig my brain:
the brawl of sun-striped, rain-battered market stalls,
myriad peasant voices arguing,
haggling like seagulls over a scrap of cloth,
a scrag end of mutton; evening’s first lamps string out
the curve of the esplanade; the floodlit fortress surveying
the Old Town beyond the stairways and statued bridge,
the cathedral’s son et lumière and the ornate piazzas,
a maze of open-air cafés with always the chance of seeing
familiar faces and stopping to chatter a while
over cappuccino or latte. People are on display here.
In Budapest’s Vaci Utca, Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat,
in every Italian or Jugoslav town towards nightfall
townsfolk converge on the Corso to see and be seen, to enjoy
the pride of being at home to everyone. These cities become me.

*

Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our First Spring Launch on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Supermarket Restaurant, beginning at 7:30 pm.

The Vancouver Launch of Night Vision takes place Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Vancouver Public Library. Levenson will also be reading in Ottawa and Kingston at the end of April. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

One Response to Night Vision by Christopher Levenson

  1. Pingback: An Interview with Christopher Levenson |

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