25 July 2009

Paul Hoover

[from Paul Hoover's Poems in Spanish, Omnidawn, 2005]

The Presence

We know it and we feel it —
the fierce will of things

to set themselves apart,
isolated by their beauty,

bereft in isolation.
Museum of the Thing:

the living glove, earthen shoe,
a parakeet’s soft feather

that seems to be made of fur —
yellow tuft of sunlight

falling through the air
like nothing but itself,

as water is nothing but water,
grinding and turning as if

there were no passage.
Where does the work get done

that tenders so much beauty
and leaves us in such grief?

Sweetmeat and papaya,
your own face in chrome

with its hint of speed —
all these chaste subjects

love us in their way —
needle & thimble, dog & bone.

Whatever is absent in them,
let is speak its name:

fingerprint, blue smudge,
a typewriter with new keys —

one for infinity and one for sleeping.
Each night the objects come

to watch us in our beds,
above which hang

the dusty family portraints
retreating toward a quaintness

that can only be remembered —
mother in her kingdom

of white gloves and black bibles,
the mouse she trapped in her hand

as it leaped from a cabinet.
And father, poor father,

whose kindness went on forever,
into a clear confusion,

what were those sounds I heard
from the bed beyond the wall?

Which way should I drive now
to find the house we lived in,

vanished including its trees?
Gone the upstairs bedrooms

with their perfect shining floors,
not even a ghost to warm them.

All things come to witness
these absences like objects —

pears so near to ripeness
they melt in the hand

and roads that go only south,
with a sound of tires like rain.

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