Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.
Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.
The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.
The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!
To fully appreciate the formatting of this poem, as well as read additional information about it, please go directly to this site: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/wayman/poem5.htm
Courtesy of D.H.
Braced in that compromising position
(feet in the stirrups, pelvis slid forward)
my April ritual begins-
examination of the innards.
The patient should be put at ease,
and so we speak of poetry.
I haven’t studied it in years,
you say, feeling for fibroids.
In fact, I can recite only one.
Let me … hear it, I grunt
between heavy pressings on my abdomen.
You clear your throat,
Whanne that Aprille with his showres soote…
press and probe, press and probe
The Droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
I catch breath as the cool instrument
zooms in for a cervical smear.
And bathed every veyne, you pause, forgetting.
I joyfully prompt you, … in swich licour
You pat my tummy, indicating the exam is done.
I sit up, pull down the angel robe,
we join together in one more line,
Of which vertu engendered is the flour;
Geoffrey, my good man, meet my Doctour of Phisik;
in al this world ne was ther noon hym lik.
after jorge luis borges
a yellow rose
in a hotel glass
the man had kissed her
on the neck
had kissed her
on the mouth
but these kisses belonged to yesterday
there would be no moment
yellow roses came from china
open in may before our hybrids
unfold pink rugosities and baroque scent
expose dusty fissured yellow pearls
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
This present tragedy will eventually
turn into myth, and in the mist
of that later telling the bell tolling
now will be a symbol, or, at least,
a sign of something long since lost.
This will be another one of those
loose changes, the rearrangement of
hearts, just parts of old lives
patched together, gathered into
a dim constellation, small consolation.
Look, we will say, you can almost see
the outline there: her fingertips
touching his, the faint fusion
of two bodies breaking into light.
You have such lovely bones, he says,
holding my face in his hands,
and although I can almost feel
the stone and the sand
sifting away, his fingers
like the softest of brushes,
I realize after this touch
he would know me
years from now, even
in the dark, even
without my skin.
Thank you, I smile—
then I close the door
and never call him again.