Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poems for Breakfast

Good morning.

Sonnet, by Robert Hass

A man talking to his ex-wife on the phone.
He has loved her voice and listens with attention
to every modulation of its tone. Knowing
it intimately. Not knowing what he wants
from the sound of it, from the tendered civility.
He studies, out the window, the seed shapes
of the broken pods of ornamental trees.
The kind that grow in everyone's garden, that no one
but horticulturalists can name. Four arched chambers
of pale green, tiny vegetal proscenium arches,
a pair of black tapering seeds bedded in each chamber.
A wish geometry, miniature, Indian or Persian,
lovers or gods in their apartments. Outside, white,
patient animals, and tangled vines, and rain.

“I see people looking like trees and walking,” said the blind man,
after Jesus touched him the first time. 
What he said baffled even the human god.
“They are walking around with arms outstretched,” he said.
“Their palms brush the sky. The stars slip through their long fingers. 
The moonlight spills into a river and darts away like a school of silver fish
while the leaves moan in the trees in a hundred human voices. 
Branches argue with wind. Locusts buzz in the night’s tangled hair.”
He asked in wonder, “Is this the world?” 
Then the god lifted his holy palms, wet with spit,
and held them over the man’s eyes. 
Twice touched by him, the man muttered, “Wait.” 
But already he was healed.

The field blank in snow. But I mean this page.
Now print mars the surface to make surface
Seen. Sheen only error brings. Perfect rage
So the sun rises. Rage is your slow practice
That makes of every day another day
In whose gathering promise the shy sparrows
Shiver instead of sing. I want to go away.
See these footsteps? These black shapes in the snow?
If there is a word for them, it’s no word
I know. Pursuit?, no. Proof?, no. Don’t call it fear.
Could I cross this white sheet if I were coward,
Edge to edge, margin to margin, never
Referring to anything outside itself?—
Stop that. Stop pointing to the photo on the shelf.

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