Archive for July, 2010

The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart

The wind blows
through the doors of my heart.
It scatters my sheet music
that climbs like waves from the piano, free of the keys.
Now the notes stripped, black butterflies, flattened against the screens.
The wind through my heart
blows all my candles out.
In my heart and its rooms is dark and windy.
From the mantle smashes birds’ nests, teacups full of stars as the wind winds round, a mist of sorts that rises and bends and blows or is blown through the rooms of my heart that shatters the windows, rakes the bedsheets as though someone had just made love. And my dresses they are lifted like brides come to rest on the bedstead, crucifixes, dresses tangled in trees in the rooms of my heart. To save them I’ve thrown flowers to fields, so that someone would pick them up and know where they came from.
Come the bees now clinging to flowered curtains.
Off with the clothesline pinning anything, my mother’s trousseau.
It is not for me to say what is this wind or how it came to blow through the rooms of my heart.
Wing after wing, through the rooms of the dead the wind does not blow. Nor the basement, no wheezing, no wind choking the cobwebs in our hair.
It is cool here, quiet, a quilt spread on soil.
But we will never lie down again.
by Deborah Digges (1950-2009)

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Stephen Dunn won the Pulitzer for his book Different Hours. Other Pulitzer finalists in 2001 were Bruce Smith for his book The Other Lover and Sydney Lea for his book Pursuit of a Wound.

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The Singing

I was walking home down a hill near our house
on a balmy afternoon under the blossoms
Of the pear trees that go flamboyantly mad here
every spring with their burgeoning forth

When a young man turned in from a corner singing no it was more of a cadenced shouting
Most of which I couldn’t catch I thought because
the young man was black speaking black

It didn’t matter I could tell he was making his song up which pleased me he was nice-looking
Husky dressed in some style of big pants obviously
full of himself hence his lyrical flowing over

We went along in the same direction then he noticed me there almost beside him and “Big”
He shouted-sang “Big” and I thought how droll
to have my height incorporated in his song

So I smiled but the face of the young man showed nothing he looked in fact pointedly away
And his song changed “I’m not a nice person”
he chanted “I’m not I’m not a nice person”

No menace was meant I gathered no particular threat but he did want to be certain I knew
That if my smile implied I conceived of anything like concord between us I should forget it

That’s all nothing else happened his song became
indecipherable to me again he arrived
Where he was going a house where a girl in braids
waited for him on the porch that was all

No one saw no one heard all the unasked and
unanswered questions were left where they were
It occurred to me to sing back “I’m not a nice
person either” but I couldn’t come up with a tune

Besides I wouldn’t have meant it nor he have believed it both of us knew just where we were
In the duet we composed the equation we made
the conventions to which we were condemned

Sometimes it feels even when no one is there that
someone something is watching and listening
Someone to rectify redo remake this time again though no one saw nor heard no one was there
C.K. Williams (born 1936) won the Pulitzer for his book Repair. Other Pulitzer finalists in 2000 were Adrienne Rich for her book Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998 and Rodney Jones for his book Elegy for the Southern Drawl.

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Seeing a recent production of the play Our Town made me think of this journal entry from October, 2004: 

The Mirror and the Frame

I want to be like a tree
that is planted
beside the flowing
that yields its fruit
in due season
whose leaves
shall never fade.
Psalm One

Each time my mom breathes she groans, and it’s hard to listen to anymore. We remain in the small rooms of her apartment most the day. I thought she only did this when she was tired, but she does it all day long now. It is the traffic noise of the dying. She thinks my antique toaster is easy 30 years old. Burnt toast from 1974 fills her kitchen as we watch a PBS production of Our Town. She reads in the paper it is the only play continually produced somewhere since 1938. I wonder when I rent the video with William Holden if I’m not unconsciously filling in the gaps when the play is not on stage. William Holden stands at the gravesite, all the ghost’s bodies remain still listening, and the young bride, Emily, stares at us from her own grave. She looks back into her past to watch a younger version of her mother as she moves through the kitchen on an ordinary day. Oh earth, you’re too wonderful to realize. Does anyone ever really realize life while they’re living it – every, every minute.

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938 for his play Our Town, a three-act play about citizens in an average American town in the early twentieth century.

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Our Town

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The Idea
for Nolan Miller
For us, too, there was a wish to possess
Something beyond the world we knew, beyond ourselves,
Beyond our power to imagine, something nevertheless
In which we might see ourselves; and this desire
Came always in passing, in waning light, and in such cold
That ice on the valley’s lakes cracked and rolled,
And blowing snow covered what earth we saw,
And scenes from the past, when they surfaced again,
Looked not as they had, but ghostly and white
Among false curves and hidden erasures;
And never once did we feel we were close
Until the night wind said, “Why do this,
Especially now? Go back to the place you belong;”
And there appeared , with its windows glowing, small,
In the distance, in the frozen reaches, a cabin;
And we stood before it, amazed at its being there,
And would have gone forward and opened the door,
And stepped into the glow and warmed ourselves there,
But that it was ours by not being ours,
And should remain empty. That was the idea.
by Mark Strand (born 1934). He won the Pulitzer for his book Blizzard of One. Other Pulitzer finalists in 1999 were Alice Notley for her book Mysteries of Small Houses and Frederick Seidel for his book Going Fast.

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“Going to town one day to sell some small articles, Abba Agathon met a cripple on the roadside, paralysed in his legs, who asked him where he was going. Abba Agathon replied,’To town, to sell some things,’ The other said, ‘Do me the favour of carrying me there.’ So he carried him to the town. The cripple said to him, ‘Put me down where you sell your wares.’ He did so. When he had sold an article, the cripple asked, ‘What did you sell it for?’ And he told him the price. The other said, ‘Buy me a cake,’ and he bought it. When Abba Agathon had sold a second article, the sick man asked, ‘How much did you sell it for?’ And he told him the price of it. Then the other said, ‘Buy me this,’ And he bought it. When Agathon, having sold all his wares, wanted to go, he said to him, ‘Are you going back?’ and he replied, ‘Yes.’ Then said he, ‘Do me the favour of carrying me back to the place where you found me.’ Once more picking him up, he carried him back to that place. Then the cripple said, ‘Agathon, you are filled with divine blessings, in heaven and on earth.’ Raising his eyes, Agathon saw no man; it was an angel of the Lord, come to try him.”

From the The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, translated by Benedicta Ward, SLG

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