One morning recently, my cat brought in a dead mole–it had the softest fur I’d ever touched. And here is a poem (from Poetry Daily) in praise of the mole, so despised by gardeners.
Earth is his occupation, and the mole
works the turf in his native breaststroke, swimming
hallways into the sod—a geonaut
supreme, and connoisseur of worms; I’ve heard him
breaking roots an inch beneath my sole
and seen how the subterranean specialist
carves out for himself a single, simple role.
I envy the expertise he brings to bear
on dirt, the narrow office he was given;
as for me, my habitat is thought,
where I grope and sweat and scrabble out a living
forced to prove—up here in a windy lair
as invisible as the mole’s—that there exists
an animal who can dig a hole in air.
from CONNOISSEURS OF WORMS / Paul Dry Books
Here is a poem from a little-known poet whose work I like:
A Little Tooth
Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all
over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.
Thomas Lux – 1946-2017
From New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
I just finished reading all four of Katie Kitamura’s novels, in reverse order. I love her writing. Here is a sample, the first paragraph of her new (and I think best) book, Intimacies.
“It is never easy to move to a new country, but in truth I was happy to be away from New York. That city had become disorienting to me, after my father’s death and my mother’s sudden retreat to Singapore. For the first time, I understood how much my parents had anchored me to this place none of us were from. It was my father’s long illness that had kept me there, and with its unhappy resolution I was suddenly free to go. I applied for the position of staff interpreter at the Court on impulse, but once I had accepted the job and moved to the Hague, I realized that I had no intention of returning to New York, I no longer knew how to be at home there.”
For more about this extraordinary novel, see my review on ZYZZYVA.
I’ve always felt that Sylvia Plath’s work was much more compelling than her contemporary, Anne Sexton, though they seem equally unhappy. But I saw a poem of Sexton’s from Paris Review recently that I like, though I still think Plath is far the better poet.
Here is the poem–I especially like it up until God slips in:
There is an animal inside me,
clutching fast to my heart,
a huge crab.
The doctors of Boston
have thrown up their hands.
They have tried scalpels,
needles, poison gases and the like.
The crab remains.
It is a great weight.
I try to forget it, go about my business,
cook the broccoli, open and shut books,
brush my teeth and tie my shoes.
I have tried prayer
but as I pray the crab grips harder
and the pain enlarges.
I had a dream once,
perhaps it was a dream,
that the crab was my ignorance of God.
But who am I to believe in dreams?
Anne Sexton, from The Poet of Ignorance
I was lucky to know Chana Bloch, a generous spirit, a poet and a translator. Here is a poem she translated from the Hebrew with Stephen Mitchell. I often feel that I come from a world that no longer exists, a world where maids polished the silver and made little textured butter balls with wooden paddles for parties.
My mother comes from the days
My mother comes from the days when they made
paintings of beautiful fruit in silver bowls
and didn’t ask for more.
People moved through their lives
like ships, with the wind or against it, faithful
to their course.
I ask myself which is better
dying old or dying young.
As if I’d asked which is lighter
a pound of feathers or a pound of iron.
I want feathers, feathers, feathers.
Yehuda Amichai (trans. from Hebrew by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell)
Once again this comes from the posts of Sean the Sharpener
I saw this in my daily email from Sean the Sharpener–seems like a prose poem to me:
Franz Kafka (trans. from German by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins):