Poetry

“Those Winter Sundays” – Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

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Poetry

“River” – Shuntaro Tanikawa

Mother,
Why is the river laughing?

Why, because the sun is tickling the river.

Mother,
Why is the river singing?

Because the skylark praised the river’s voice.

Mother,
Why is the river cold?

It remembers being once loved by the snow.

Mother,
How old is the river?

It’s the same age as the forever young springtime.

Mother,
Why does the river never rest?

Well, you see it’s because the mother sea
is waiting for the river to come home.

Translated from the Japanese by Harold Wright.

 

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Poetry

“From Nowhere” – Marie Howe

I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes

unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring. Listen,
a day comes, when you say what all winter

I’ve been meaning to ask, and a crack booms and echoes
where ice had seemed solid, scattering ducks

and scaring us half to death. In Vermont, you dreamed
from the crown of a hill and across a ravine

you saw lights so familiar they might have been ours
shining back from the future.

And waking, you walked there, to the real place,
and when you saw only trees, come back bleak

with a foreknowledge we have both come to believe in.
But this morning, a kind day has descended, from nowhere,

and making coffee in the usual way, measuring grounds
with the wooden spoon, I remembered,

this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture
after gesture, what else can we know of safety

or of fruitfulness? We walk with mincing steps within
a thaw as slow as February, wading through currents

that surprise us with their sudden warmth. Remember,
last week you woke still whistling for a bird

that had miraculously escaped its cage, and look, today,
a swallow has come to settle behind this rented rain gutter,

gripping a twig twice his size in his beak, staggering
under its weight, so delicately, so precariously it seems

from here, holding all he knows of hope in his mouth.

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Poetry

Excerpt from Clearing – Wendell Berry

From History:

What we eat is resurrection
of what we have eaten.
The flesh we had is changed
beyond any words we knew
into this unity we are:
woman, man, and earth,
each other’s metaphor.
I say this while the age
achieves its ruin, rain
falling hard in the night
into the swollen river,
a rage of lies in the air.
This weather is not spent.
But we have healed together
earth and eye and hand.
That is our sacrament.

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Poetry

“Night Text” – Sarah Maclay

NIGHT TEXT

Let’s imagine I’m translating something to you–
you, asleep, or sleepless and naming
that third place–between–

with the tips of your tapering fingers–

I don’t know the language.
It bends.

In the mind–in that strangely shared chamber–
that is, I mean, in your hands,

where you show me those scenes of confusion and flight
with such intimacy, and don’t know it–

even sans color, sans liquor, sans shape,
we are twins. Fraternal. Unknown.

The moon, invasive, huge,
lunging in through the windows,
makes no exceptions–

It’s true: it will never happen / you’d be surprised.

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