by C.K. Williams
I'd have thought by now it would have stopped,
as anything sooner or later will stop, but still it happens
that when I unexpectedly catch sight of myself in a mirror,
there's a kind of concussion, a cringe; I look quickly away.
Lately, since my father died and I've come closer to his age,
I sometimes see him first, and have to focus to find myself.
I've thought it's that, my precious singularity being diluted,
but it's harsher than that, crueler, the way, when I was young,
I believed how you looked was supposed to mean,
something graver, more substantial: I'd gaze at my poor face
and think, "It's still not there." Apparently I still do.
What isn't there? Beauty? Not likely. Wisdom? Less.
Is how we live or try to live supposed to embellish us?
All I see is the residue of my other, failed faces.
But maybe what we're after is just a less abrasive regard:
not "It's still not there," but something like "Come in, be still."
"Glass" from COLLECTED POEMS by C. K. Williams.
Friday, January 8, 2021
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
Monday, January 4, 2021
by Tony Hoagland
Once, in the cool blue middle of a lake,
up to my neck in that most precious element of all,
I found a pale-gray, curled-upwards pigeon feather
floating on the tension of the water
at the very instant when a dragonfly,
like a blue-green iridescent bobby pin,
hovered over it, then lit, and rested.
I mention this in the same way
that I fold the corner of a page
in certain library books,
so that the next reader will know
where to look for the good parts.
Tony Hoagland, “Field Guide” from
Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty.
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Winter Is the Best Time
by David Budbill
Winter is the best time
to find out who you are.
Quiet, contemplation time,
away from the rushing world,
cold time, dark time, holed-up
pulled-in time and space
to see that inner landscape,
that place hidden and within.
David Budbill, "Winter Is the Best Time" from While We've Still Got Feet.