"If absence and loss are inescapable conditions of life, the poem …is an act of recovery. It synthesizes, for all its meagreness, what is with what is no longer; it conjures up a life that persists by denial, gathering strength from its hopelessness, and exists, finally and positively, as an emblem of survival." - Mark Strand
For today, I debated between Wallace Stevens and Mark Strand and while I've read both of their work quite a bit over the last five years, I decided to go with Mark Strand since his poems have appealed to me at an emotional level more than Stevens's poems. I'll probably keep reading Wallace Stevens poems all my life (bought his Collected Poems at a used book store last year) but for today, Strand it is.
The Night, the Porch
by Mark Strand
To stare at nothing is to learn by heart
What all of us will be swept into, and baring oneself
To the wind is feeling the ungraspable somewhere close by.
Trees can sway or be still. Day or night can be what they wish.
What we desire, more than a season or weather, is the comfort
Of being strangers, at least to ourselves. This is the crux
Of the matter. Even now we seem to be waiting for something
Whose appearance would be its vanishing—the sound, say,
Of a few leaves falling, or just one leaf, or less.
There is no end to what we can learn. The book out there
Tells as much, and was never written with us in mind.
by Mark StrandEven this late it happens:the coming of love, the coming of light.You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows.sending up warm bouquets of air.Even this late the bones of the body shineand tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.
A Piece of the Storm
by Mark Strand
From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
That’s all There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
“It’s time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening.
Keeping Things Whole
by Mark Strand
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
by Mark StrandInk runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
"Mark Strand confronts the infinite, which sometimes returns his gaze."