05 November 2009

Jane Kenyon

[from Jane Kenyon's Otherwise, Graywolf, 1996]

From the Back Steps

A bird begins to sing,
hesitates, like a carpenter
pausing to straighten a nail, then
begins again.
The cat lolls in the shade
under the parked car, his head
in the wheel's path.
I bury the thing I love.

But the cat continues to lie
comfortably, right where he is,
and no one will move the car.
My own violence falls away
like paint peeling from a wall.
I am choosing a new color
to paint my house, though I'm still
not sure what the color will be.

Afternoon in the House

It's quiet here. The cats
sprawl, each
in a favored place.
The geranium leans this way
to see if I'm writing about her:
head all petals, brown
stalks, and those green fans.
So you see,
I am writing about you.

I turn on the radio. Wrong.
Let's not have any noise
in this room, except
the sound of a voice reading a poem.
The cats request
The Meadow Mouse, by Theodore Roethke.

The house settles down on its haunches
for a doze.
I know you are with me, plants,
and cats -- and even so, I'm frightened,
sitting in the middle of perfect possibility.

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