Evening Poetry, December 8

Mosaic of the Nativity

by Jane Kenyon

Serbia, Winter 1993

On the domed ceiling God

is thinking:

I made them my joy,

and everything else I created

I made to bless them.

But see what they do!

I know their hearts

and arguments:

“We’re descended from

Cain. Evil is nothing new,

so what does it matter now

if we shell the infirmary,

and the well where the fearful

and rash alike must

come for water?”

God thinks Mary into being.

Suspended at the apogee

of the golden dome,

she curls in a brown pod,

and inside her the mind

of Christ, cloaked in blood,

lodges and begins to grow.

You can find this poem in Otherwise: New & Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, December 7

Old Mama Saturday

By Marie Ponsot

“Saturday’s child must work for a living.”“I’m moving from Grief  Street.
Taxes are high here
though the mortgage’s cheap.

The house is well built.
With stuff to protect, that
mattered to me,
the security.

These things that I mind,
you know, aren’t mine.
I mind minding them.
They weigh on my mind.

I don’t mind them well.
I haven’t got the knack
of  kindly minding.
I say Take them back
but you never do.

When I throw them out
it may frighten you
and maybe me too.

                 Maybe
it will empty me
too emptily

and keep me here
asleep, at sea
under the guilt quilt,
under the you tree.”

You can find this in Springing: New and Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, December 5

Stars

by Sara Teasdale

Alone in the night

On a dark hill

With pines around me

Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars

Over my head,

White and topaz

And misty red;

Myriads with beating

Hearts of fire

That aeons

Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven

Like a great hill,

I watch them marching

Stately and still,

And I know that I

Am honored to be

Witness

Of so much majesty.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, December 3

A Chair in Snow

By Jane Hirshfield

A chair in snow
should be
like any other object whited
& rounded

and yet a chair in snow is always sad

more than a bed
more than a hat or house
a chair is shaped for just one thing

to hold
a soul its quick and few bendable
hours

perhaps a king

not to hold snow
not to hold flowers

You can find this poem in The Beauty: Poems.

Evening Poetry, November 30

After Thanksgiving

by Sandra M. Gilbert

Lord, as Rilke says, the year bears down toward winter, past

the purification of the trees, the darkened brook.

Only 4:45, and the sky’s sheer black

clasps two clear planets and a skinny moon

as we drive quietly home from the airport,

the last kid gone.

The time of preparation’s over, the time of

harvesting the seed, the husk, the kernel, saving

what can be saved–weaves of sun like

rags of old flannel, provident peach stones,

pies, pickles, berry wines to

hold the sweetness for a few more months.

Now the mountains will settle into their old

cold habits, now the white

birch bones will rise

like all those thoughts we’ve tried to repress:

madness of the solstice, phosphorescent

logic that rules the fifteen-hour night!

Our children, gorged, encouraged, have taken off

in tiny shuddering planes. Plump with stuffing,

we too hurry away, holding hands, holding on.

Soon it’ll be January, soon snow will

shuffle down, cold feathers, swathing us in

inches of white silence–

and the ways of the ice

will be narrow, delicate.

You can find this poem on poetryfoundation.org.

Evening Poetry, November 27

Things

by Lisel Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely

living among the things.

so we gave the clock a face,

the chair a back,

the table four stout legs

which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues

as smooth as our own

and hung tongues inside bells

so we could listen

to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles

the pitcher received a lip,

the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us

was recast in our image;

we gave the country a heart,

the storm an eye,

the cave a mouth

so we could pass into safety.

You can find this poem in Alive Together.

Evening Poetry, November 26

Thanksgiving

By Tim Nolan

Thanks for the Italian chestnuts—with their
tough shells—the smooth chocolaty
skin of them—thanks for the boiling water—

itself a miracle and a mystery—
thanks for the seasoned sauce pan
and the old wooden spoon—and all

the neglected instruments in the drawer—
the garlic crusher—the bent paring knife—
the apple slicer that creates six

perfect wedges out of the crisp Haralson—
thanks for the humming radio—thanks
for the program on the radio

about the guy who was a cross-dresser—
but his wife forgave him—and he
ended up almost dying from leukemia—

(and you could tell his wife loved him
entirely—it was in her deliberate voice)—
thanks for the brined turkey—

the size of a big baby—thanks—
for the departed head of the turkey—
the present neck—the giblets

(whatever they are)—wrapped up as
small gifts inside the cavern of the ribs—
thanks—thanks—thanks—for the candles

lit on the table—the dried twigs—
the autumn leaves in the blue Chinese vase—
thanks—for the faces—our faces—in this low light.

You can find this poem in And Then.

Evening Poetry, November 23

Meeting Point

by Louis MacNeice

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;
The stream’s music did not stop
Flowing through heather, limpid brown,
Although they sat in a coffee shop
And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air
Holding its inverted poise—
Between the clang and clang a flower,
A brazen calyx of no noise:
The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand
That stretched around the cups and plates;
The desert was their own, they planned
To portion out the stars and dates:
The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash
That bloomed again in tropic trees:
Not caring if the markets crash
When they had forests such as these,
Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body’s peace
God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room one glow because
Time was away and she was here.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems: William MacNeice.

Evening Poetry, November 22

Mending Wall

By Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

You can find this poem in The Poetry of Robert Frost.

Evening Poetry, November 21

Doors

by Carl Sandburg

An open door says, “Come in.”
A shut door says, “Who are you?”
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
     why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
     why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
     doors forget.

You can find this poem in Sandburg Range.