Night and the House
–Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
Night reunites the house and its silence
From the foundations up
To the still flower
Only the ticking of time’s clock is heard
Night reunites the house and its destiny
Now nothing is scattered nothing divided
Everything watches like the vigilant cypress
Emptiness walks in its living spaces
The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain’s attention, there’s nothing to say.
A Letter from Mary in the Tyrol
The Light Gatherer
–Carol Ann Duffy
When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candlesworth under your skin,
enough to begin,
and as you grew
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,
warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
the light of a smile after your tears.
Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I’d enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,
the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,
and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.
Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,
and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,
like a jewelled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnel of years.
The Danger of Wisdom
We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.
What Every Woman Should Carry
My mother gave me the prayer to Saint Theresa.
I added a used tube ticket, kleenex,
several Polo mints (furry), a tampon, pesetas,
a florin. Not wishing to be presumptuous,
not trusting you either, a pack of 3.
I have a pen. There is space for my guardian
angel, she has to fold her wings. Passport.
A key. Anguish, at what I said/didn’t say
when once you needed/didn’t need me. Anadin.
A credit card. His face the last time,
my impatience, my useless youth.
That empty sack, my heart. A box of matches.
La Boda del Mar y Arena
If we, for long enough, look,
with the clean eyes of children
at what this big house is saying,
we will start to understand
the language of our parents,
what the salt means.
I do not want to marry the wind
who leaves me things the color of gold,
whose tracks mark a serpent round the house.
More, more than parrots, more than gold,
I want my love to know my ear.
My love, I want to know your ear, & in this
instant that is as long as my life, I stand,
rigged with bones, beside the window:
beneath the purple dark of evening coming,
the sea & beach move into each other’s mouths
particle by particle; each one wanders
the big rooms of the other.
O, god, let us love
like they love.