Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rilke - 11.2

by Rainer Maria Rilke
from Rilke's Book of Hours, 2005

I am a city by the sea
sinking into a toxic tide.
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown
had poisoned my mother as she carried me.

It's here in all the pieces of my shame
that I now find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart --
oh let them take me now.

Into them I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God -- spend them however you want.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


by Walt Whitman

(from a talk I had lately with a German spiritualist)

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form--no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space--ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold--the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eyes grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.

Monday, November 22, 2010


by Susan Minot
from Poems, 4 a.m., 2002

Even in the dead of winter
he is talking about bulbs.

Walking after dinner with my father.

There is snow, moonlight everywhere.
Cold. The loop is short.
We pass where he planted a hill
in the fall.
Above us stars

in the dark seed sky.
Their scattered pattern is something
we might discuss--
something he knows
from navigating boats.

I look up. It's like breathing ice.

My father's attention, though,
is on the knotty
wooden claws he's pressed in.
He knows where they are
below a packed layer of earth,
then all that snow above.
The tree shadows crisscross
and humps push up more sparkling white

and all he can think of,
walking with his daughter,
is bulbs.
Daffodils? I ask.
Yes, he says, this father of seven.
I planted them in clusers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On a Tuesday Leaving

On a Tuesday Leaving
by L.L. Barkat
from here: Seedlings in Stone: The Color of Things

You think you know
the color of things-- a maple
in the back yard is gray rivers
where gray squirrels go boating
towards a blue bay...

then the world turns,

you want to run into the house,
pull somebody off the couch,
drag him (her) to see that the maple
isn't gray at all, and red squirrels
are racing to tips of bright arteries,
bleeding towards the end of day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Clearing

The Clearing
by Annie Dillard
from Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, 1974

They came to the forest and made a clearing,
blasted the stumps, split the wood,
and built the woodshed.
Too tired
to build the house, they bought a roller,
white paint, some asphalt,
and made a tennis court in the clearing.

They forgot the fence. They played tennis
that summer till all the balls were lost
in the forest;
and when the woodshed
caught fire, it was almost as pretty
as the blaze the sparkler factory made
when it burned outside of Wheeling, West Virginia.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Evaporation Poems

Evaporation Poems
by Kathleen Norris
from Journey, 2001

I would like to be as mobile as my mind
I had a religious aunt who was
(she flew out a window
into the Ideal).

So much noise:
the water in stems,
the workings of teeth,
intestines. Such
foolishness, she said,
wanting to be free
of breath's rise and fall,
wanting to be
no body.

has is price.
Do not dare to say that the water's need
is a simple one,
or that we shall all be changed.

All summer I have watched the water
take whatever shape it can,
whispering "there is the past,
and the future, and between the two of them
you must be careful not to disappear."

Now I see so clearly on the days
when rain turns to snow,
how wind passes quickly
along the surfaces of things,
how calmly it probes this chilly place
where I have moved
with everything I own.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Farmer's Daughter

Farmer's Daughter
by Annie Dillard
from Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, 1974

There's always unseasonable weather.
Remember the flood that killed father:
when the water went down, the chickens
lay muddy and drowned. Oh we watch
the weather here on earth; we don't forget
the winter days when girls wear cotton dresses,
the Aprils when the bushes sag with snow.
We were cutting the apple trees back
when he said, "Look, it's snowing";
but I'd seen a winter of snow
and knew that more were coming.
Still, what do we know of a season?
Only father could say
when the rain would stop at the mountain
or ruin the hay. I'd try to watch
the hawks or lick a finger,
and the crops were still a failure;
there was frost all over the valley,
south as far as Twin Hills.
He kissed me when the shadows were long
on the path to the orchard; he promised
to meet me again when the apples were in;
now when the wind parts the curtains,
now in the city when the cat won't come,
I sleep with only one eye shut,
keeping a weather eye out.