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Archive for February, 2009

Falling: The Code

1.
Through the night
the apples
outside my window
one by one let go
their branches and
drop to the lawn.
I can’t see, but hear
the stem-snap, the plummet
through leaves, then
the final thump against the ground.

Sometimes two
at once, or one
right after another.
During long moments of silence
I wait
and wonder about the bruised bodies,
the terror of diving through air, and
think I’ll go tomorrow
to find the newly fallen, but they
all look alike lying there
dewsoaked, disappearing before me,
(more…)

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The Weepers

Were it not for the rain
beginning, big drops slapping
the gravestones, then spreading
like wounds, or smacking
the leaves overhead, first
one, then another, until
I stand beneath a chorus of mumbling
and leaves trembling — thus the rain
marks its passage through time, steadily
darkening what it touches,
and makes indistinguishable the moments
by narration in a monotonous voice —
were it not for the rain I’d stay.

(more…)

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No easy thing to bear, the weight of sweetness.

Song, wisdom, sadness, joy: sweetness
equals three of any of these gravities.

See a peach bend
the branch and strain the stem until
it snaps.
Hold the peach, try the weight, sweetness
and death so round and snug
in your palm.
And, so, there is
the weight of memory.

(more…)

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Epistle

Of wisdom, splendid columns of light
waking sweet foreheads,
I know nothing.

but what I’ve glimpsed in my most hopeful of daydreams.
Of a world without end,
amen,

I know nothing,
but what I sang of once with others,
all of us standing in the vaulted room.

(more…)

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With his work, as with a glove, a man feels the universe.
At noon he rests a while, and lays the gloves aside on a shelf.
There they suddenly start growing, grow huge
and make the whole house dark from inside.

(more…)

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Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
…………………………………………

Csezlaw Milosz (1911-2004), Nobel Laureate, 1980

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Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

“The crisis of our lives do not come, I think, accurately dated; they crop up unexpected and out of turn, and somehow or other arrange themselves to a calendar we cannot control.” Elizabeth Bishop

In the first half of the poem At the Fishhouses, we are above the water, smelling and seeing the fish houses. But with the entrance of the seal in the last stanza, we go beneath the surface.

It’s a delightful image. The speaker sings “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” to a seal. Seals are curious and playful, and something about them seems human. That’s the basis for the Orcadian folklore that seals can shed their skins to become human. As the seal watches from the water, it’s half in one world and half in another.

At the Fishhouses (1955)

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
(more…)

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