July 18th, 2005 : Comments Off
when death comes
when death comes
like a hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
What is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
As a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
And I look upon time as no more than an idea,
And I consider eternity as another possibility,
And I think of each life as a flower, as common
As a field daisy, and as singular,
And each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
Tending, as all music does, toward silence,
And each body a lion of courage, and something
Precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
Or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
m. oliver, from new and selected poems
wired for movement
in the hills of new mexico
on a jade mountain-top
at the end of the world
we are as still as deer.
city dwellers, tonight
the whispery wind is our radio;
the vista, our entertainment.
meat eaters, we wait for the grill to get hot,
prepare the steaks,
and scan the horizon for animals.
today at chimayo
i grieved at the hole of dirt
for the bones of the indians buried there
for the trouble with humans
for the dried blood of violent death
for the need to believe in miracles.
at the chapel of los ninos
i kneeled at the altar,
lit a white candle, and chanted a prayer
for the child i am desperate for.
on bitter, burning tears of apology
for having taken
to be ready.
l. viens 1996
once, on an Indian summer day
in early November,
you chased a sunset for me,
all the way to Portsmouth;
through the newly naked woods,
gliding over the blacktop,
my eyes glued to the lavender sky.
We chased the great golden orb
As it sank elegantly,
Robed in a cape of brilliant orange – imperious!
But destined to fall non-the-less,
Into the patient, sympathetic breast of the earth.
We drove for miles on that winding road;
Each turn revealing, or concealing
That huge heart of gold:
Now splintered by branches, now awash with purple clouds
But smoldering always;
Potent, untouchable, destined forever, even out of sight;
And how could
The old ones know,
Be sure of their king’s return,
Pressed close in the long black night,
How could they know
That he would indeed
Greet them at dawn with his lazy light
And softly give shape
To their world?
Is that why the heart catches in the throat at sunset?
Grieves at the descent of that shimmering ball
In a way that one simply cannot afford to grieve each day
And yet does, for all that passes.
you can’t even try
To hang on
No, you can’t ever hold onto the sun,
Though your arms are stretched as wide as the horizon,
And your heart is cracked open deeper than you can imagine.
You can only love it’s great shaggy head as it falls,
Stroke it; soothe it;
Gaze through your tears at the last slivers of light until
They move inside,
Into your very bones,
And all you know,
All you feel,
l. viens 2005
hymn to beauty
do you come from
on high or out of the abyss,
o beauty? godless yet divine, your gaze
indifferently showers favor and shame,
and therefore some have likened you to wine.
your eyes reflect the sunset and the dawn;
you scatter perfumes like a windy night;
your kisses are a drug, your mouth the urn
dispensing fear to heroes, fervor to boys.
whether spawned by hell or sprung from
fate like a spaniel follows at your heel;
you sow haphazard fortune and despair,
ruling all things, responsible for none.
you walk on corpse’s beauty, undismayed,
and horror coruscates among your gems;
murder, one of your dearest trinkets, throbs
on your shameless belly: make it dance!
dazzled, the dayfly flutters round your wick,
crackles, flares, and cries: I bless this torch!
the pining lover for his lady swoons
like a dying man adoring his own tomb.
who cares if you come from paradise or hell,
appalling beauty, artless and monstrous
if only your eyes, your smile or your foot reveal
the infinite i love and have never known?
come from satan, come from god – who cares,
angel or siren, rhythm, fragrance, light,
provided you transform – o my one queen!
this hideous universe, this heavy hour?
- charles baudelaire
the woodpecker pecks but the hole does not appear
it’s hard to imagine how unremembered we all become,
how quickly all that we’ve done
is unremembered and unforgiven,
bog lilies and yellow clover flashlight our footfalls,
how quickly and finally the landscape subsumes us,
and everything that we are becomes what we are not.
This is not new, the orange finch
And the yellow-and-dun finch
Picking the dry clay politely,
The grasses asleep in their green slips
Before the noon can roust them,
The sweet oblivion of the everyday
Like a warm waistcoat
Over the cold and endless body of memory.
Cloud-scarce Montana morning.
July, with its blue cheeks puffed out like a putto on an ancient map,
Huffing the wind down from the northeast corner of things,
Tweets on the evergreen stumps,
Swallows treading the air,
The ravens hawking from tree to tree, not you, not you,
Is all that the world allows, and all one could wish for.
- charles wright
on new terms
i’d like to begin again. Not touch my
own face, not tremble in the dark before
an intruder who never arrives. Not
apologize. Not scurry, not pace. Not
refuse to keep notes of what meant the most.
Not skirt my father’s ghost. Not abandon
Piano, or a book before the end.
Not count, count, count and wait, poised – the control,
The agony controlled – for the loss of
The one, having borne, I can’t be, won’t breathe
Without: the foregone conclusion, the pain
Not yet met, the preemptive mourning
Nothing left of me but smoke.
- deborah garrison