Now that the weather softens the
end of winter in the tips of
trees’ buds grow lighter a yellow
air of lifting slight but persistent
warmth you walk past the street’s
far corner with turbanlike color swathed
hat and broad multicolored shawl hangs
down over your trunklike blue cloth
coat with legs black dog’s tugging
pull on leash’s long cord I walk quickly
to catch up to you pull equally by
your securing amplitude, blue love!
It’s been a while since I took a stab at a close reading of Bob Creeley, so I took up my collection and browsed until I found one that let me explore another wing in the mansion of his technique. “Sky” fits that qualification, in that it doesn’t play by the rules.
Firstly, “Sky” is not strictly grammatical, it is full of adianoeta, which is an expression that carries a secondary, more subtle meaning, derived from the Greek for unintelligible. To read the poem sends one off on numerous false trails, line by line it transforms as the sentence unfolds: the weather softens the end of winter, the weather softens the end of winter in the tips, the weather softens the end of winter in the tips of trees’ buds. But the sentence elides into another sentence: the tips of trees’ buds grow lighter. Here are the first three lines demystified:
Now that the weather softens the end of winter in the tips of trees’ buds
the tips of trees’ buds grow lighter
“Lighter” itself gets double duty as both sunbeam and weight: a yellow air (sunlight), a yellow air of lifting (weight), a yellow air of lifting slight (weight), a yellow air of lifting slight but persistent warmth (sunlight).
The two other uses of adianoeta are “with legs” in the ninth line and the “you” in line eleven. The blue cloth coat is with legs and with legs the black dog tugs. In the penultimate line the “you” entendres too: “I walk quickly to you” and “you pull equally”.
It is this pulling that is the key to understanding the poem. As the trees’ buds grow lighter and is lifted by “persistent warmth”, the woman (herself treelike with her multicolored canopy, the “turbanlike” hat along with her “trunklike” coat) pulls the man (who in turn pulls his dog) into the sky, into love, into herself. The tenth line demonstrates this perfectly:
“pull on leash’s long cord I walk quickly”
The subject to both parts of the line is the “I”. He pulls his dog along to catch up with her and is pulled by her (“you pull equally by your securing amplitude”) just as the line itself pulls at him. It is also notable that the anchor preventing him from catching up is black, while the rest of the poem screams color: swath of color, multicolored, yellow, blue. There is perhaps security in the tether, but he must let go and be secured by the amplitude of spring love to go sailing into the sky.