On the way home today I stopped at Barnes & Noble, thinking to find either some poetry or a book of jokes. Specifically, I was looking for some good poetry that might stick in the mind. I visited my old friend Ginsberg, but he can be awfully tedious. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a book called “Good Poems” . . . selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor. Now, Garrison himself is a tedious windbag who shouldn’t spend the hours each week he does on public radio, but I have heard some good stuff on The Writer’s Almanac and these are poems from there.
I grabbed a Tazo, sat down across from a pretty student, and opened the book and indeed, found a good poem. Then I found a good poem I thought I’d share with Yayoi, but then I recalled I don’t share with that person any more. I found instead a poem I will share here, since it is kind of topical:
The Forsaken Wife
Methinks, ’tis strange you can’t afford
One pitying Look, one parting Word,
HUMANITY claims this as due,
But what’s HUMANITY to you?
Cruel Man! I am not Blind,
Your Infidelity I find;
Your want of Love, my Ruin shows,
My broken Heart, your broken Vows.
Yet maugre all your rigid Hate,
I will be TRUE in spite of Fate,
And one Preheminence I’ll claim,
To be forever still the same.
Show me a Man that dare be TRUE,
That dares suffer what I do;
That can for ever Sigh unheard,
And ever Love without Regard:
I then will own your Prior Claim
To LOVE, to HONOUR, and to FAME:
But ’till that time, my Dear, adieu,
I yet SUPERIOR am to you.
To which, I shout, “amen!”
Note: maugre means “in spite of”
I have recently allowed myself to hate Yayoi. This is not something that comes naturally to me, but hate is the opposite of love, perhaps it cauterizes. I hope to do this only as long as there seems a point to it. Things seem generally to be getting better, though I am keeping the possibility of getting some therapy open. As it is, it seems that living life, for the most part, and running with friends and family, that ought be therapy enough.
Well, let us share the poem that caught my eye when I first allowed the pages of this book to fall open. This is that first glance of attraction to this book, and I still think it a good one:
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Finally, in the interests of completeness, I will share here, what I would have shared with another:
Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s-float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.