the porch

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The Night, The Porch
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, which is why 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 us as much, and was never written with us in mind.

Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

cities like ash

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When the Vacation is Over for Good
Mark Strand
It will be strange
Knowing at last it couldn’t go on forever,
The certain voice telling us over and over
That nothing would change,

And remembering too,
Because by then it will all be done with, the way
Things were, and how we had wasted time as though
There was nothing to do,

When, in a flash
The weather turned, and the lofty air became
Unbearably heavy, the wind strikingly dumb
And our cities like ash,

And knowing also,
What we never suspected, that it was something like summer
At its most august except that the nights were warmer
And the clouds seemed to glow,

And even then,
Because we will not have changed much, wondering what
Will become of things, and who will be left to do it
All over again,

And somehow trying,
But still unable, to know just what it was
That went so completely wrong, or why it is
We are dying.

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

toy of women

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My Life
Mark Strand
The huge doll of my body
refuses to rise.
I am the toy of women.
My mother

would prop me up for her friends.
“Talk, talk,” she would beg.
I moved my mouth
but words did not come.

My wife took me down from the shelf.
I lay in her arms. “We suffer
the sickness of self,” she would whisper.
And I lay there dumb.

Now my daughter
gives me a plastic nurser
filled with water.
“You are my real baby,” she says.

Poor child!
I look into the brown
mirrors of her eyes
and see myself

diminishing, sinking down
to a depth she does not know is there.
Out of breath,
I will not rise again.

I grow into my death.
My life is small
and getting smaller. The world is green.
Nothing is all.

Photo by CG on Unsplash

dim frontiers

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For Her
Mark Strand
Let it be anywhere
on any night you wish,
in your room that is empty and dark

or down the street
or at those dim frontiers
you barely see, barely dream of.

You will not feel desire,
nothing will warn you,
no sudden wind, no stillness of air.

She will appear,
looking like someone you knew:
the friend who wasted her life,

the girl who sat under the palm tree.
Her bracelets will glitter,
becoming the lights

of a village you turned from years ago.

Photo by Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash

lacking wit and depth

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Taking a Walk with You
Mark Strand
lacking the wit and depth
that inform our dreams’
bright landscapes,
this countryside
through which we walk
is no less beautiful for being only what it seems.
rising from the dyed
pool of its shade,
the tree we lean against
was never made to stand
for something else,
let alone ourselves.
nor were these fields
and gullies planned
with us in mind.
we live unsettled lives
and stay in a place
only long enough to find
we don’t belong.
even the clouds, forming
noiselessly overhead,
are cloudy without
resembling us, and, storming
the vacant air,
don’t take into account
our present loneliness.
and yet, why should we care?
already we are walking off
as if to say,
we are not here,
we’ve always been away.

coming of light

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The Coming of Light
Mark Strand
Even 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 shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

Photo by Madi Doell on Unsplash

it couldn’t go on forever

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When the Vacation is Over for Good
Mark Strand
It will be strange
Knowing at last it couldn’t go on forever,
The certain voice telling us over and over
That nothing would change,

And remembering too,
Because by then it will all be done with, the way
Things were, and how we had wasted time as though
There was nothing to do,

When, in a flash
The weather turned, and the lofty air became
Unbearably heavy, the wind strikingly dumb
And our cities like ash,

And knowing also,
What we never suspected, that it was something like summer
At its most august except that the nights were warmer
And the clouds seemed to glow,

And even then,
Because we will not have changed much, wondering what
Will become of things, and who will be left to do it
All over again,

And somehow trying,
But still unable, to know just what it was
That went so completely wrong, or why it is
We are dying.

Photo by Łukasz Łada on Unsplash