Mark Strand, Keeping Things Whole

 

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

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Mark Strand, Keeping Things Whole

Alice Walker, Gray

I have a friend
who is turning gray,
not just her hair,
and I do not know
why this is so.

Is it a lack of vitamin E
pantothenic acid, or B-12?
Or is it from being frantic
and alone?

‘How long does it take you to love someone?’
I ask her.
‘A hot second,’ she replies.
‘And how long do you love them?’
‘Oh, anywhere up to several months.’
‘And how long does it take you
to get over loving them?’
‘Three weeks,’ she said, ‘tops.’

Did I mention I am also
turning gray?
It is because I adore this woman
who thinks of love
in this way.

Alice Walker, Gray

Czeslaw Milosz, Encounter

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Wilno, 1936.

Czeslaw Milosz, Encounter

Margaret Atwood, I Was Reading a Scientific Article

They have photographed the brain
and here is the picture, it is full of
branches as I always suspected,

each time you arrive the electricity
of seeing you is a huge
tree lumbering through my skull, the roots waving.

It is an earth, its fibres wrap
things buried, your forgotten words
are graved in my head, an intricate

red blue and pink prehensile chemistry
veined like a leaf
network, or is it a seascape
with corals and shining tentacles.

I touch you, I am created in you
somewhere as a complex
filament of light

You rest on me and my shoulder holds

your heavy unbelievable
skull, crowded with radiant
suns, a new planet, the people
submerged in you, a lost civilization
I can never excavate:

my hands trace the contours of a total
universe, its different
colours, flowers, its undiscovered
animals, violent or serene

its other air
its claws

its paradise rivers.

 

 

Margaret Atwood, I Was Reading a Scientific Article

Pindar, Fourth Pythian Ode

Take to heart what may be learned from Oedipus:
If someone with a sharp axe
hacks off the boughs of a great oak tree,
and spoils its handsome shape;
although its fruit has failed, yet it can give an account of itself
if it comes later to a winter fire
or if it rests on the pillars of some palace
and does a sad task among foreign walls,
when there is nothing left in the place it came from.

 

Pindar, Fourth Pythian Ode

Mark Strand, The Remains

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds.
How can I sing? Time tells me what I am.
I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Mark Strand, The Remains