Wherever I go, I always take at least one book of poetry. This time, I brought three, and since there are still two days remaining in National Poetry Month, I thought I would tell you which books I brought, none of which I opened, but as my mother says of unworn shoes in her closet–I enjoy knowing they’re there.
Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings, published in 2012. I’ve read none of this. The title caught my eye in the Provincetown Bookshop. Here’s the title poem, which in the book is in the shape of a square, missing just a bit at the end:
All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing.
Galway Kinnell’s The Book of Nightmares, published in 1971. I read this a couple of weeks ago in one sitting and want to read it again, slower. A friend of mine wrote a brilliant piece about it on Facebook. Excerpt from “Under the Maud Moon.”
gather wet wood,
cut dry shavings, and for her,
I held in my hands
a few hours, whom I gave back
only to keep holding the space where she was,
a small fire in the rain.
Olena Kalytiak Davis’s On the Kitchen Table From Which Everything Has Been Hastily Removed, published in 2009. I’ve read the first two poems, the first eight pages. I can’t remember how I came upon this book. I recently learned that Olena graduated from VCFA and has had her poems published in The New Yorker. Excerpt from “The Lyric “I” Drives to Pick Up Her Children From School: A Poem in the Postconfessional Mode.”
“i” notices it is almost time to pick up her children from school!
“i” realizes she has gotten nowhere, nowhere near it, much less inside it, wasted another morning, can’t fucking write a poem to save “i’s” life, oh well,
“i” is, at least, “working”.
“i” pulls on her tight jeans, her big boots, her puffy parka.
“i” remote starts her car.
“i’s” car is a 1995 red toyota 4-runner with racing stripe that doesn’t have enough power for “i”.
“i’s” car stereo also doesn’t have enough power for “i”.
“i” drives cross town listening to dylan, who has plenty of power for “i”.
I’m in a small “prayer group.” We do what we call “African Bible study”: reading a passage, ostensibly of the Bible, out loud three times, each time speaking about the passage and how it means in our own lives. Me, I’m not religious, and I find the Bible to be of generally little inspiration. So when it’s my turn to come up with a reading, I very often go to Mary Oliver, who is certainly spiritual. Denise Levertov is another favorite.
I love Kinnell. What is the piece about him that your friend wrote on FB?
Will send it to you, Anne.
Of these I do only know ‘A Thousand Mornings’, which I love! I plan to read Ben Lerner’s ‘Mean Free Path’ today.
the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle–so interesting
I love that image of holding a space where she was. Thanks for sharing these poems.
I know, Sarah.
I confess… I identify with your line…
“none of which I (have) opened”…
and I… like your mother…
“enjoy knowing they’re there”
Thanks, Helena. Of course, by writing this post, I managed to open ALL of them : )
I love Mary Oliver and A Thousand Mornings is a favorite. Thank you for sharing the others. Both are now on my reading list! Hope you are doing well!
Jacqueline, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s nice to know you, and I hope you enjoy reading the other two books.