Love After Love

A poem by the great Derek Walcott:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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Minnows, Darters, Sturgeon

By Albert Goldbarth

That there’s a fun in funeral
is goofus etymology, but a sensible reminder
of the secret life in everything… how inside dear
is deer and, inside that,
the Sanskrit: “falls to dust and perishes.”
If we could hold a word
against our ear, like a shell,
we’d hear its sea— churning in its belly,
the size of blood in a mosquito.

The way inside us is
the genome’s part of its ongoing
conversation with the universe.
The way the ageless story of the seed is still
inside the Nile reed; and the song
of the reed, inside the sheet of papyrus
— under the tallies of sweet downriver wheat
and chariot wheels and waxy cones of floral perfume:
another language.

The ho’s, the speeders, and the married slappers
never stop, they pile up like autumn leaves,
but under the scurf of the forest preserve
the “cold case” is muttering patiently, and waiting
the creation of technology that will finally point
a revelatory finger. Forgetting is only remembering

thinned with foreign particles.
If the Neolithic village is ever excavated
out of its silencing earth, the wind
will still know the notes. One night
the woman lightly places her fingertips
one the head of the man asleep beside her:
somewhere hundreds of brain-equivalent miles down
inside him is a database
of fossils of earlier women. Later,

his turn: with his ear against her back,
between the shoulders: there, the whole script
of an alternate reality is being recited (someone
plays his part) in a drama
compounded of glial cells and electrical links.
Today I heard the radio interview
of someone who studies the sounds fish make;
her special focus is minnows, darters, sturgeon.
They’re noisy, it turns out, when you have
the proper equipment… thundering booms
and drawn-out kiss-squeak figure prominently
in these fierce displays of territoriality
and sexual welcome underneath
the still and quiet surface.

Con Corona, Mexico. Flor Garduno


The Enchantment

By Sharon Olds

When I say, to my mother, What was a good
thing about me as a child?, my mother’s
face seems to unfurl from the center,
hibiscus in fast motion, the anthers
and flounces spring out with joy. Oh you were
enchanting, she breathes. What do you mean
crazy? No sense of reality?
No-no, she laughs, with many little notes
half a scale, plus grace notes-I don’t
know how to say it, you were just. . .
enchanting. Possessed? I ask. Brain-damaged?
No . . . she smiles. There was something about you
the way you looked at things. I think I get it:
that stunned look on my face, in photos,
that dumbstruck look, gaze of someone
who doesn’t understand anything.
But a week later, I decide it was a look
of wonder, it was bemused pleasure.
Days later, I see it-that light
on my mother’s face-she loved me. And today
I hear her, she did not say enchanted.
The woman in whose thrall I am
is in my thrall, I came into being
within her silks and masses, and after we are
gone would she caper here, my first
love, would she do me the honor of continued ensorcelling?

 


Poem for the Breasts

By Sharon Olds

Like other identical twins, they can be
better told apart in adulthood.
One is fast to wrinkle her brow,
her brain, her quick intelligence. The other
dreams inside a constellation,
freckles of Orion. They were born when I was thirteen,
they rose up, half out of my chest,
now they’re forty, wise, generous.
I am inside them — in a way, under them,
or I carry them, I’d been alive so many years without them.
I can’t say I am them, though their feelings are almost
my feelings, as with someone one loves. They seem,
to me, like a gift that I have to give.
That boys were said to worship their category of
being, almost starve for it,
did not escape me, and some young men
loved them the way one would want, oneself, to be loved.
All year they have been calling to my departed husband,
singing to him, like a pair of soaking
sirens on a scaled rock.
They can’t believe he’s left them, it’s not in their
vocabulary, they being made
of promise — they’re like literally kept vows.
Sometimes, now, I hold them a moment,
one in each hand, twin widows,
heavy with grief. They were a gift to me,
and then they were ours, like thirsty nurslings
of excitement and plenty. And now it’s the same
season again, the very week
he moved out. Didn’t he whisper to them,
Wait here for me one year? no.
He said, God be with you, God
be with you, God-bye, for the rest
of this life and for the long nothing. And they do not
know language, they are waiting for him, my
Christ they are dumb, they do not even
know they are mortal — sweet, I guess,
refreshing to live with, beings without
the knowledge of death, creatures of ignorant suffering.

Flor Garduño, Los Limones, Mexico, 1998

Flor Garduño, Los Limones, Mexico, 1998


The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

man with a gunwp-1459829987659.jpg


Residue

By Carlos Drummond de Andrade

From everything a little remained.
From my fear. From your disgust.
From stifled cries. From the rose
a little remained.

A little remained of light
caught inside the hat.
In the eyes of the pimp
a little remained of tenderness,
very little.

A little remained of the dust
that covered your white shoes.
Of your clothes a little remained,
a few velvet rags, very
very few.

From everything a little remained.
From the bombed-out bridge,
from the two blades of grass,
from the empty pack
of cigarettes a little remained.

So from everything a little remains.
A little remains of your chin
in the chin of your daughter.

A little remained of your
blunt silence, a little
in the angry wall,
in the mute rising leaves.

A little remained from everything
in porcelain saucers,
in the broken dragon, in the white flowers,
in the creases of your brow,
in the portrait.

Since from everything a little remains,
why won’t a little
of me remain? In the train
travelling north, in the ship,
in newspaper ads,
why not a little of me in London,
a little of me somewhere?
In a consonant?
In a well?

A little remains dangling
in the mouths of rivers,
just a little, and the fish
don’t avoid it, which is very unusual.

From everything a little remains.
Not much: this absurd drop
dripping from the faucet,
half salt and half alcohol,
this frog leg jumping,
this watch crystal
broken into a thousand wishes,
this swan’s neck,
this childhood secret…
From everything a little remained:
from me; from you; from Abelard.
Hair on my sleeve,
from everything a little remained;
wind in my ears,
burbing, rumbling
from an upset stomach,
and small artifacts:
bell jar, honeycomb, revolver
cartridge, aspirin tablet.

From everything a little remained.

And from everything a little remains.
Oh, open the bottles of lotion
and smoother
the cruel, unbearable odor of memory.

Still, horribly, from everything a little remains,
under the rhythmic waves
under the clouds and the wind
under the bridges and under the tunnels
under the flames and under the sarcasm
under the phlegm and under the vomit
under the cry from the dungeon, the guy they forgot
under the spectacle and under the scarlet death
under the libraries, asylums, victorious churches
under yourself and under your feet already hard
under the ties of family, the ties of class,
from everything a little always remains.
Sometimes a button. Sometimes a rat.

luigi_ghirri_lido_di_spina_1973

Lido Di Spina. Luigi Ghirri. 1973.


The Impressionist

By Adelia Prado

On one occasion,
my father painted the whole house
a brilliant orange.
We lived for a long time in a house,
as he said himself,
eternally dawning.

Sun on the Easel, 1968 Giorgio de chirico

Sun on the Easel. Giorgio de Chirico. 1968.