Monday, March 23, 2009

780. The Sky - Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Walter Whipple

We should have started from this: the sky.
A window without a sill, frame, or pane.
An opening and nothing more,
but open wide.

I need not wait for a clear night
nor crane my neck
to examine the sky.
I have the sky at my back, at hand, and on my eyelids.
The sky wraps me snugly
and lifts me from below.

Even the highest mountains
are no nearer the sky than the deepest valleys.
There is no more sky in one place
than another.
A cloud is crushed by sky as ruthlessly as a grave.
A mole is as enraptured
as a wing-fluttering owl.
A object falling into a precipice
falls from the sky into sky.
Granular, liquid, craggy,
fiery and volatile
expanses of sky, crumbs of sky,
puffs and snatches of sky.
The sky is omnipresent
even in darkness under the skin.
I eat sky, I excrete sky.
I am a trap inside a trap,
an inhabited inhabitant,
an embraced embrace,
a question in answer to a question.

To divide earth and sky
is not the correct way
to consider this whole.
It merely allows survival
under a more precise address,
quicker to be found
if I were to be looked up.
My call words
are delight and despair.

Monday, March 16, 2009

779. January - Betty Adcock

Dusk and snow this hour
in argument have settled
nothing. Light persists,
and darkness. If a star
shines now, that shine is
swallowed and given back
doubled, grounded bright.
The timid angels flailed
by passing children lift
in a whitening wind
toward night. What plays
beyond the window plays
as water might, all parts
making cold digress.
Beneath iced bush and eave,
the small banked fires of birds
at rest lend absences
to seeming absence. Truth
is, nothing at all is missing.
Wind hisses and one shadow
sways where a window's lampglow
has added something. The rest
is dark and light together tolled
against the boundary-riven
houses. Against our lives,
the stunning wholeness of the world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

778. Sisyphus And The Sudden Lightness - Stephen Dunn

It was as if he had wings, and the wind
behind him. Even uphill the rock
seemed to move of its own accord.

Every road felt like a shortcut.

Sisyphus, of course, was worried;
he'd come to depend on his burden,
wasn't sure who he was without it.

His hands free, he peeled an orange.
He stopped to pet a dog.
Yet he kept going forward, afraid
of the consequences of standing still.

He no longer felt inclined to smile.

It was then that Sisyphus realized
the gods must be gone, that his wings
were nothing more than a perception
of their absence.

He dared to raise his fist to the sky.
Nothing, gloriously, happened.

Then a different terror overtook him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

777. Letter to Dr. B--, Diane Ackerman

I have found you among the texts
(but not the textures) of your life,
in the library of your cunning,
where the abstracts of forty papers
open, one by one, like small windows
partly sealed by terminology's lacquer.
They reveal you both aloof and enthralled,
a restless mind of intersecting planes.
How can I resist the paper "Artist and Analyst"?
Yet I do, thinking it best to stay
within the frame we've chosen,
using the palette we invent,
creating a mosaic in motion.
Whenever I set a shard in place,
the mosaic evolves, blurs a moment,
then a new scene refines, throwing past into relief,
drawing present into mind.
So I will sacrifice my yen to know
the what and whim of you. Though my curiosity
is swelling like a Magellanic Cloud
filled with a luminous starfield of questions,
I'll sacrifice them on the altar of our ineffable
cause. A padded altar. A cause quilted with passion,
and insight whose razors cut clean as thrill.
A sacrifice intoxicating as any pill.