Saturday, February 04, 2012

A Village Life by Louise Gluck and Chronic by D.A. Powell


First Snow
by Louise Gluck

Like a child, the earth's going to sleep,
or so the story goes.

But I'm not tired, it says.
And the mother says, You may not be tired but I'm tired-

You can see it in her face, everyone can.
So the snow has to fall, sleep has to come.
Because the mother's sick to death of her life
and needs silence.

This poem (for Gluck's very quiet, extraordinarily graceful volume of poems) had resonance for me. I've been struggling for some time over a poem for my very sick mother:

The Subjunctive Blues

by Sean Enright

If should could be finale of would…

We hiked on that sudden warming February day:
girls shrieking in the woods suddenly full of people,
dog splashdowns into the icy low creek,
plastic trash caught in fallen branches,
golden pools of thick scum-bubbles,
everything still dead, still completely gone, dull brown.

Ame spotted the severed foreleg of a deer
draped across a low branch,
we all circled back to look,
the white bone at the haunch showing,
the hoof and lower leg still covered with fur,
and I kept looking for other remnants as we walked back;

winter day that was the last moment of that death
before life was to begin again,
and I thought of the opposite,
the last moment of life, and you were in my mind
as you always have been this past year
who would never walk these woods again,
will essentially never walk anywhere again,

except little steps you watch from above
without any connection to your feet
this is ridiculous 1 2 3 4
and we put it to music take a little one step
two step three step come a little closer please

learning forward until something primitive in your mind
catches and your hips startle, knees quiver

and feet inch forward
always with your forehead down, searching for those steps
that got away, giving you an attitude of shame,
so cowed by your ordeal, don’t want to be seen,
and still it has not broken you; little pitfalls

of snowdrops seen here and there
through the transparent woods,
their faint sick antiseptic smell, but still,
born again, never again to die, until the next time,
free to live late winter long
like a crown on a corpse.

My poem first came after the hike with my family, and recalling this poem by Wordsworth:

To A Snowdrop
by William Wordsworth

LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

Chronic, poems by D. A. Powell, is more inscrutable to me, but I'm drawn to the poems, and titles, particularly the title "meditating upon the meaning of the line 'clams on the halfshell and rollerskates' in the song good times by chic."

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