These Anemones, Their Song Is Made Up As They Float Along

 

poem by Laurence Wieder

In 1954, in June

I saw a total eclipse of the sun by the moon.

I saw the flowers fold up, the birds

Stopped singing to the morning, the grass

Grew wet, and it was dark.

I was awake, but when I was awake

A while longer I woke up and said

“I have slept until now”, and now

I have stopped sleeping altogether

The total solar eclipse of 18 July 1860, drawing by G. Tempel
The total solar eclipse of 18 July 1860, drawing by G. Tempel

courtesy of Paris Review

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Becoming a Redwood

text by  Dana Gioia

photos © Arito Nishiki

Stand in a field long enough, and the sounds
start up again. The crickets, the invisible
toad who claims that change is possible,

And all the other life too small to name.
First one, then another, until innumerable
they merge into the single voice of a summer hill.

Yes, it’s hard to stand still, hour after hour,
fixed as a fencepost, hearing the steers
snort in the dark pasture, smelling the manure.

And paralyzed by the mystery of how a stone
can bear to be a stone, the pain
the grass endures breaking through the earth’s crust.

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Unimaginable the redwoods on the far hill,
rooted for centuries, the living wood grown tall
and thickened with a hundred thousand days of light.

The old windmill creaks in perfect time
to the wind shaking the miles of pasture grass,
and the last farmhouse light goes off.

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Something moves nearby. Coyotes hunt
these hills and packs of feral dogs.
But standing here at night accepts all that.

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You are your own pale shadow in the quarter moon,
moving more slowly than the crippled stars,
part of the moonlight as the moonlight falls,

Part of the grass that answers the wind,
part of the midnight’s watchfulness that knows
there is no silence but when danger comes.

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Stargazing

poem by Rita Dove

The sky is not a glass of anything;
it winks, it’s a parable,
the kind your mother told whenever
you’d been “wicked”—intense
but vague. The night sky swerves
to its seat, the show begins:

The Pleiades:
Seven zeros make zero—that’s what
we are. Seven opportunities
to drown in, seven ways out—
don’t look too hard, we’ll blur.
There’s more of us than meets
the eye, a spreading rash
on the shoulder of a stubborn man.
Taken apart, we’re nothing
but fire and air.

Cassiopeia:
Take it away! This is somebody else’s
nightmare. Can I be blamed
for wanting more? How else
stay young? My daughter, helpless,
outshines me in her willingness to serve.
Let her embrace her strong young man
and go. I’m chained to my chair.

Andromeda:
This crag’s an adamant bed
but I’m grateful, grateful, at least
for my fingers, squirmed free of cuffs,
which heft the smaller stones to smash
the sea. Brave shining face above
your butterfly horse, descend
and fight like a man. Take me
and I’ll be your lover, slave, diviner,
as you wish. This
is what’s known as being
between a rock and a hard place.