I took Robert Pinsky’s new book of poems with me on a trip this weekend, but when I came back, I opened his Selected Poems to this, which has the flavor of the cantor in the Jewish service, the singing, incantatory lines that I love:
Stone wheel that sharpens the blade that mows the grain.
Wheel of the sunflower turning, wheel that turns
The spiral press that squeezes the oil expressed
From grain or olives. Particles turned to mud
On the potter’s wheel that whirls to form the vessel
That holds the oil that drips to cool the blade.
My mother’s dreadful fall. Her mother’s dread
Of all things: death, life, birth. My brother’s birth
Just before the fall. His birth again in Jesus.
Wobble and blur of my soul, born just once,
That cleaves to circles. The moon, the eye, the year.
Circle of causes or chaos or turns of chance.
Line of a tune as it cycles back to the root,
Arc of the changes. The line from there to here
Of Ellen speaking thread of my circle of friends.
The art of lines, a chord of the circle of work.
Radius. Lives of children growing away.
The plant radiant in air, its root in the dark.