Evening Poetry, May 29

Every Day

by Naomi Shihab Nye

My hundred-year-old next-door neighbor told me:

every day is a good day if you have it.

I had to think about that a minute.

She said, Every day is a present

someone left at your birthday place at the table.

Trust me! It may not feel like that

but it’s true. When you’re my age

you’ll know. Twelve is a treasure.

And it’s up to you

to unwrap the package gently,

lift out the gleaming hours

wrapped in tissue,

don’t miss the bottom of the box.

You can find this A Maze Me: Poems for Girls.

Evening Poetry, May 28

Apology

by Richard Wilbur

A word sticks in the wind’s throat;

A wind-launch drifts in the swells of the rye;

Sometimes, in broad silence,

The hanging apples distil their darkness.

You, in a green dress, calling, and with brown hair,

Who comes by the field-path now, whose name I say

Softly, forgive me love if also I call you

Wind’s word, apple-heart, haven of grasses.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 27

For Light

by John O’Donohue

In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.

When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.

That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.

When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.

When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.

When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.

And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.

You can find this poem in To Bless The Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, May 26

Your Night Is of Lilac

BY MAHMOUD DARWISH

TRANSLATED BY FADY JOUDAH

The night sits wherever you are. Your night
is of lilac. Every now and then a gesture escapes
from the beam of your dimples, breaks the wineglass
and lights up the starlight. And your night is your shadow—
a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams
equal. I am not a traveler or a dweller
in your lilac night, I am he who was one day
me. Whenever night grew in you I guessed
the heart’s rank between two grades: neither
the self accepts, nor the soul accepts. But in our bodies
a heaven and an earth embrace. And all of you
is your night … radiant night like planet ink. Night
is the covenant of night, crawling in my body
anesthetized like a fox’s sleepiness. Night diffusing a mystery
that illuminates my language, whenever it is clearer
I become more fearful of a tomorrow in the fist. Night
staring at itself safe and assured in its
endlessness, nothing celebrates it except its mirror
and the ancient shepherd songs in a summer of emperors
who get sick on love. Night that flourished in its Jahili poetry
on the whims of Imru’ el-Qyss and others,
and widened for the dreamers the milk path to a hungry
moon in the remoteness of speech …

You can find this poem in The Butterfly’s Burden.

Evening Poetry, May 25

The Garden by Moonlight

BY AMY LOWELL

A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,   
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish   
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.   
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,   
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.

You can find this poem in Amy Lowell: Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, May 24

Logos

by Mary Oliver

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, May 23

Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.

Though the season is rich
with fruit, my tongue
hungers for the sweet of speech.

Though the beech is golden
I cannot stand beside it
mute, but must say

‘It is golden,’ while the leaves
stir and fall with a sound
that is not a name.

It is in the silence
that my hope is, and my aim.
A song whose lines

I cannot make or sing
sounds men’s silence
like a root. Let me say

and not mourn: the world
lives in the death of speech
and sings there.

You can find this in The Country of Marriage: Poems.

Evening Poetry, May 22

Wyeth’s Milk Cans

by Richard Wilbur

Beyond them, hill and field

Harden, and summer’s easy

Wheel-ruts lie congealed.

What if these two bells tolled?

They’d make the bark-splintering

Music of pure cold.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 21

Happy 21st birthday to my eldest child, Judah, who holds brilliant light, extraordinary musical and artistic gifts, and a deep well of quiet wisdom in his young heart!

For Your Birthday

by John O’Donohue

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
The blueprint of your life
Would begin to glow on earth,
Illuminating all the faces and voices
That would arrive to invite
Your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,
Who loved you before you were,
And trusted to call you here
With no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
Into becoming who you were meant to be,
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
With dark gifts of hurt and loss
That have helped to school your mind
In the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,
Blessed be those who looked for you
And found you, their kind hands
Urgent to open a blue window
In the grey wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
Your health, eyes to behold the world,
Thoughts to countenance the unknown,
Memory to harvest vanished days,
Your heart to feel the world’s waves,
Your breath to breathe the nourishment
Of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,
May you open the gift of solitude
In order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
To hear your hidden heart,
Know the serenity of stillness
To be enfolded anew
By the miracle of your being.

You can find this poem in To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings.

Evening Poetry, May 20

The Well of Grief

by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface of the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear, nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown away by those who wished for something else.

You can find this in River Flow.