While there are many wonderful blackberry poems, I know only three poems about cherries, all from previous centuries–one by Thomas Campion, one by Robert Herrick, and this one, by D. H. Lawrence, that Larry mentioned as we were eating the exceptionally sweet cherries of this summer:
The Cherry Robbers
Under the long, dark boughs, like jewels red
In the hair of an Eastern girl
Shine strings of crimson cherries, as if had bled
Blood-drops beneath each curl.
Continue reading “Cherries” →
I happened on this poem last week, and here it is for you:
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, Continue reading “Maggie Smith on Monday” →
At a friend’s suggestion, I have been reading Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. I rather skimmed through the early chapters about his relatives, but once I got to the chapter on Hydrogen, I was hooked.
This is not a book about his time in Auschwitz, but about his early years and the years after the war, about life, Italy, the elements and their role in his life. He is a terrific storyteller and a lucid writer, and I’ll quote a few paragraphs here. These are completely separate but should give yo a feel for his writing:
“In January 1941 the fate of Europe and the world seemed to be sealed. Only the deluded could still think that Germany would not win…And yet, if we wanted to live, if we wished in some way to take advantage of the youth coursing through or veins, there was no other resource than self-imposed blindness… “we did not notice,” we pushed all dangers into the limbo of things not perceived or immediately forgotten… Our ignorance allowed us to live, as when you are in the mountains and your rope is frayed and about to break, but you don’t know it and feel safe.”
I often feel like we are holding that same frayed rope now. Continue reading “The Exemplary Sentence: Primo Levi” →
Once again, Monday slipped by me before I could post a poem, here are two worth waiting for. Everyone thinks of Philip Levine as the poetic champion of the blue-collar worker, but I vote for Dorianne Laux.
The Shipfitter’s Wife
I loved him most
when he came home from work,
his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,
his denim shirt ringed with sweat
and smelling of salt, the drying weeds
of the ocean. I’d go to where he sat
on the edge of the bed, his forehead
anointed with grease, his cracked hands
jammed between his thighs, and unlace
the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles
and calves, the pads and bones of his feet.
Then I’d open his clothes and take
the whole day inside me — the ship’s
gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,
the voice of the foreman clanging
off the hull’s silver ribs. Spark of lead
kissing metal. The clamp, the winch,
the white fire of the torch, the whistle,
and the long drive home.
Oh, the Water
You are the hero of this poem,
the one who leans into the night
and shoulders the stars, smoking
a cigarette you’ve sworn is your last
before reeling the children into bed.
Or you’re the last worker on the line,
lifting labeled crates onto the dock,
brown arms bare to the elbow,
your shirt smelling of seaweed and soap.
You’re the oldest daughter
of an exhausted mother, an inconsolable
father, sister to the stones thrown down
on your path. You’re the brother
who warms his own brother’s bottle,
whose arm falls asleep along the rail of his crib. Continue reading “Monday on Tuesday” →
I always feel the turn of the year after the summer solstice. Even though it is still bright summer, each day is a little shorter now, the early spring crops are over, and I get an acute sense of the brevity of summer, the impending autumn. I think this delicate poem by Jane Kenyon captures that:
How it rained while you slept! Wakeful,
I wandered around feeling the sills,
followed closely by the dog and cat.
We conferred, and left a few windows
open a crack.
xxxxxxxxxxxxNow the morning is clear
and bright, the wooden clothespins
swollen after the wet night.
The monkshood has slipped its stakes
and the blue cloaks drag in the mud.
Even the daisies—good-hearted
simpletons—seem cast down.
We have reached and passed the zenith.
The irises, poppies, and peonies, and the old
shrub roses with their romantic names
and profound attars have gone by
like young men and women of promise
who end up living indifferent lives. Continue reading “After the Solstice” →