i catch sight of the now


I Catch the Sight of the Now

Jorie Graham

unforgettable though then hardly noticed green

tiled ledge
just up to my right in the glistening shower stall, slightly above my open
eyes, square window in it, & slender citrine
lip onto which I place, gently, this first handful of hair—always I see it—the window-
pane up there letting anything in and out that
wishes to pass
thru—so freely—drops from the steam of the shower
on it, the slipping of forever & for-
ever all down the
pane, where, beyond the still-wet clump, all seems to shine and
murmur it’s just day, just this day, another day, filled with the only
of this minute, this split minute, in which if I
reach now I can feel
the years, the fissure in them,
these fractions here inside the
instant—oh mine—how mine—moving now so
differently, as if entering a room with frozen fingers and they say
no you cannot warm them here
at the fire,
there is no fire, there is no
room, actually there is nothing, though you can
start carving the nothing, you can test your strength
against the nothing, the subject is
loss, the dark is inside your
open mouth not knowing what else there is again to
say, a kind of howling without
sorrow, no amazement, no
wisdom, just the roomlessness of this your suddenly
suddenly everything, suddenly there is no more of what there
was, suddenly you do not die of fear you just fear, suddenly
there is no such thing as right or wrong yr hand is
a claw full of hair there is no
purification anywhere as the shower keeps streaming looking for
hollows, more hollows, this thread of the only
water cycle dragged down
into here to
run all over you, to rake yr
skinny neck & down inside of you where you
look up, open yr
mouth—to scream to sing to say the one
right word—as now the next
soft handful
comes, it is such a surprise, as you raise up yr
hand, high, full, to the ledge, to pile it on there—& what
will you do
now, shooting your gaze into those filaments, your years of having & not
knowing, still wet, in clumps, through which the daylight now is pouring itself,
though it is not pouring anything at all or into
anything at all because it’s just the planet
turning again and again into and out of the
dark which is not itself actually dark
at all.

“evolving into the invisible”


Jorie Graham

I would not want, I think, a higher intelligence, one
simultaneous, cut clean
of sequence. No,
it is our slowness I love, growing slower,
tapping the paintbrush against the visible,
tapping the mind.
We are, ourselves, a mannerism now,
having fallen
out of the chain
of evolution.
So we grow fat with unqualified life.
Today, on this beach
I am history to these fine
pebbles. I run them
through my fingers. Each time
some molecules rub off
evolving into
the invisible. Always
I am trying to feel
the erosion – my grandfather, stiffening
on his bed, learning
to float on time, his mind like bait presented
to the stream ongoing, or you, by my side,
sleep rinsing you always a little less
clean, or daily
the erosion
of the right word, what it shuts,
or the plants coming forth as planned out my window, row
after row, sealed
into here….
I’ve lined all our wineglasses up on the sill,
a keyboard, a garden. Flowers of the poles.
I’m gifting each with a little less water.
You can tap them
for music.
Outside the window it’s starting to snow.
It’s going to get colder.
The less full the glass, the truer
the sound.
This is my song
for the North
coming toward us.



Nearing Dawn
Jorie Graham

Sunbreak. The sky opens its magazine. If you look hard
it is a process of falling
and squinting—& you are in-
terrupted again and again by change, & crouchings out there
where you are told each second you
are only visiting, & the secret
whitening adds up to no
meaning, no, not for you, wherever the loosening muscle of the night
startles-open the hundreds of
thousands of voice-boxes, into which
your listening moves like an aging dancer still trying to glide—there is time for
everything, everything, is there is not—
though the balance is
difficult, is coming un-
done, & something strays farther from love than we ever imagined, from the long and
orderly sentence which was a life to us, the dry
leaves on
the fields
through which the new shoots glow
now also glowing, wet curled tips pointing in any
as if the idea of a right one were a terrible forgetting—as one feels upon
waking—when the dream is cutting loose, is going
back in the other
direction, deep inside, behind, no, just back—&
one is left looking out—& it is
breaking open further—what are you to do—how let it fully in—the wideness of it
is staggering—you have to have more arms eyes a
thing deeper than laughter furrows more
capacious than hate forgiveness remembrance forgetfulness history silence
precision miracle—more
furrows are needed the field
cannot be crossed this way the
wide shine coming towards you standing in
the open window now, a dam breaking, reeking rich with the end of
winter, fantastic weight of loam coming into the
soul, the door behind you
shut, the
great sands behind there, pharaohs, the millennia of carefully prepared and buried
bodies, the ceremony and the weeping for them, all
back there, lamentations, libations, earth full of bodies everywhere, our bodies,
some still full of incense, & the sweet burnt
offerings, & the still-rising festival out-cryings—& we will
from it all
nothing—& our ships will still go,
after the ritual killing to make the wind listen,
out to sea as if they were going to a new place,
forgetting they must come home yet again ashamed
no matter where they have been—& always the new brides setting forth—
& always these ancient veils of their falling from the sky
all over us,
& my arms rising from my sides now as if in dictation, & them opening out from me,
& me now smelling the ravens the blackbirds the small heat of the rot in this largest
cage—bars of light crisping its boundaries—
& look
there is no cover, you cannot reach
it, ever, nor the scent of last night’s rain, nor the chainsaw raised to take the first of the
far trees
down, nor the creek’s tongued surface, nor the minnow
turned by the bottom of the current—here
is an arm outstretched, then here
is rightful day and the arm is still there, outstretched, at the edge of a world—tyrants
imagined by the bearer of the arm, winds listened for,
corpses easily placed anywhere the
mind wishes—inbox, outbox—machines
that do not tire in the
distance—barbed wire taking daysheen on—marking the end of the field—the barbs like a
lineup drinking itself
crazy—the wire
where it is turned round the post standing in for
mental distress—the posts as they start down the next field sorting his from
mine, his from the
other’s—until you know, following,
following, all the way to the edge and then turning again, then again, to the
far fields, to the
height of the light—you know
you have no destiny, no, you have a wild unstoppable
rumor for a soul, you
look all the way to the end of
your gaze, why did you marry, why did you stop to listen,
where are your fingerprints, the mud out there hurrying to
the white wood gate, its ruts, the ants in it, your
imagination of your naked foot placed
there, the thought that in that there
is all you have & that you have
no rightful way
to live—

summer solstice


Summer Solstice
Jorie Graham

Here it is now, emergent, as if an eagerness, a desire to say there this is
done this is
concluded I have given all I have the store
is full the
crop is
in the counsel has decided the head and shoulders of the invisible have been re-
configured sewn back together melded—the extra
seconds of light like
hearing steps come running towards me, then here you
are, you came all this
you could call it matrimony it is not an illusion it can be calculated to the last position
consider no further think no longer all
art of
persuasion ends here, the head has been put back on the body, it stands before us
entire—it has been proven—all the pieces have
been found—the broken thing for an instant entire—oh strange
addition and sum, here is no other further step
to be taken, we have arrived, all the rest now a falling
back—but not yet not now now is all now and
here—the end of the day will not end—will stay with us
this fraction longer—
the hands of it all extending—
& where they would have turned away they wait,
there is nothing for now after this we shall wait,
shall wait that it reach us, this inch of finishing,
in what do you believe it leans out to suggest, slant,
as if to mend it the rip, the longest day of this one year,
not early and not late, un-
earned, unearnable—accruing to nothing, also to no one—how many more will I
see—no—wrong question—old question—how
strange that it be in
truth not now
conceivable, not as a thing-as-such, the personal death of
an I—& the extra millisecond adds itself to this day,
& learns, it too, to interline the cheek of light
given to the widening face
that stares at us holds us excels at
being—stands, dwells, purrs, allows—what can we say to it—standing in it—
quickly it arrives at full, no, not quickly, it
arrives, at fullest, then there it is, the
brim, where the fullness
stocks, pools, feeds, in-
dwells, is a
yes, I look up, I see your face through the window looking up,
see you bend to the
do not myself look out at it, no, look at you,
at the long life of having-looked as a way of believing
now in your
face, & how natural the passage of time, and death, had felt to us, & how you
comprehend the thing you are meant
to be looking
now, & you are weighing something, you are out under the sky
trying to feel
future, there it is now in your almost invisible
squinting to the visible, & how I feel your heart beat slowly out there in the garden
as we both see the
in the
youngest acacia
& how it is making its nest again this year, how it chose the second ranking
again, how the young tree strains at the stake in the wind, & within,
the still head of the mother sitting as if all time
came down to
this, the ringed neck, the
mate’s call from the
roof, & how we both know not to move—me inside at the window, deep summer, dusk,
you in the line of sight of the
bird, & also of the
hawk changing sides of the field as
& the swallows riding the lowest currents, reddish, seeking their feed.

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash