A Chair in Snow
A Chair in Snow
As I went down the hill along the wall
There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
And had just turned from when I first saw you
As you came up the hill. We met. But all
We did that day was mingle great and small
Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
The figure of our being less than two
But more than one as yet. Your parasol
Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
And all the time we talked you seemed to see
Something down there to smile at in the dust.
(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
Afterward I went past what you had passed
Before we met and you what I had passed.
from her poem “Not Moving Even One Step”
"Art is what remains when the pot is broken." —Chinese proverb I know we are bound to the earth, and the cracked heart, old terra cotta, surrenders to vine. Listen—I've seen wind stir the hair of the dead at Belsen, growing like art from the lacing grass; what is terrible, even, rises. The ruined pot dreams of ignition, each molecule coddles its flame. Enough alphabet for a torah sits on the tongue. And all shards from the winds' end gather again. I know we are bound to the earth by desire's green thread or the milk snake's slippery pass. Hepatica splits now from its leaf-wing. Out of the vessel's wreck, inwardness forms on the air and that ghost tenderly enters the soul of some mortal thing.
Rain gone. Hills are void.
Night air. Autumn now.
Bright moon in the pines.
Clear stream on the stones.
A bamboo noise –
who heads home?
The lotus stirs –
who sets out?
Spring scents always go.
But you –
you must always stay.
A spring poem by birthday boy John Updike born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1932.
When winter’s glaze is lifted from the greens,
And cups are freshly cut, and birdies sing,
Triumphantly the stifled golfer preens
In cleats and slacks once more, and checks his swing.
This year, he vows, his head will steady be,
His weight-shift smooth, his grip and stance ideal;
And so they are, until upon the tee
Befall the old contortions of the real.
So, too, the tennis-player, torpid from
Hibernal months of television sports,
Perfects his serve and feels his knees become
Sheer muscle in their unaccustomed shorts.
Right arm relaxed, the left controls the toss,
Which shall be high, so that the racket face
Shall at a certain angle sweep across
The floated sphere with gutty strings—an ace!
The mind’s eye sees it all until upon
The courts of life the faulty way we played
In other summers rolls back with the sun.
Hope springs eternally, but spring hopes fade.
Not knowing where the temple was,
I traveled miles on hills of cloud,
Through ancient pines, no good tracks,
Towards bell sounds across deep gorges.
Stream’s noise where rocks are high.
Cool sun in fir branches.
Sit at night by the mountain pool,
Seeking to reign in the Dragon.
by Wang Wei
Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, ‘Is it good, friend?’
‘It is bitter — bitter,’ he answered,
‘But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.
Einstein’s Happiest Moment
Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.
And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.
- Richard Berlin
Like a single
the red cardinal
on a pine
is our only
Taking the hands of someone you love,
You see they are delicate cages…
Tiny birds are singing
In the secluded prairies
And in the deep valleys of the hand.
“Taking the Hands” by Robert Bly, from Silence in the Snowy Fields
This poem by William Stafford fits my current morning moods very well.
Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.
People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can’t
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.
Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won’t even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.
Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.
Even the long-beloved
an unrecognized stranger.
the chipped lip
of a blue-glazed cup,
of a yellow curtain,
flooding and falling,
ruin your heart.
A table painted with roses.
An empty clothesline.
the found world surprises—
that is its nature.
what is said by all lovers:
“What fools we were, not to have seen.”
by Jane Hirshfield, from The October Palace
The mourning dove’s call woke me
In the still night, when it was still night
To me. Those sounds were older even
Than the box radio, and they said,
“Your mother is walking along the road.
I saw your dead father last night
Near the cottonwood grove.”
I slept all night in a house with dear
Friends asleep in a neighboring room.
The call woke me in the still night.