japonisme: 12/16/07 - 12/23/07

22 December 2007



In the morning as the storm begins to blow away
the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me
that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe
simpler than I could have begun to find words for
not patient not even waiting no more hidden
than the air itself that became part of me for a while
with every breath and remained with me unnoticed
something that was here unnamed unknown in the days
and the nights not separate from them
not separate from them as they came and were gone
it must have been here neither early nor late then
by what name can I address it now holding out my thanks

W. S. Merwin

from The Pupil © 1988

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21 December 2007



The magpie in the Joshua tree
Has come to rest. Darkness collects,

And what I cannot hear or see,
Broken limbs, the curious bird,

Become in darkness darkness too.
I had been going when I heard

The sound of something called the night;
I had been going but I stopped

To see the bird restrain his flight.
The bird in place, the shadows dropped

As if they waited in the light
Before I came for centuries

For something I could never see;

And what it was became itself,
And then the bird, and then the tree;
And then the force behind the breeze
Became at last the whole of me.

Philip Levine

from On The Edge
© 1963

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20 December 2007

we are waiting

“The sense of waiting here strikes strong;

Everyone’s waiting, waiting, it seems to me;

What are you waiting for so long?—

What is to happen?” I said.

from Fragment, by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

“Waiting to …”
“Who is?”
“We are …
 Was that the night- owl's cry?”
“I heard not. But see! the evening star;
And listen!—the ocean's solacing sigh.”
“You mean the surf at the harbour bar?”
“What did you say?”
“Oh, ‘waiting.’”
Waiting what for?”

from Waiting, by Walter De la Mare (1873–1956)

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18 December 2007

solstice VI


It’s not the sun
making the day sacred.

There have been other days,
brighter and less holy.

There have been mornings
as clear. And with no pain

of being, no sharp joy.
And if the sun

has a transparency now,
how could you feel it

were it not for the leaves
illumined to that clarity,

the white table, the rushes
by the road, in the pond,

and the jay’s body, its flash
among elms, clattering branches,

each carefully telling you
what it knows about light.

Patricia Hooper

from Other Lives © 1984

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17 December 2007

solstice V


An owl sound wandered
along the road with me.
I didn’t hear it —
I breathed it into my ears.

Little ones at first,
the stars retired, leaving
polished little circles on the sky for awhile.

Then the sun began to shout
from below the horizon.
Throngs of birds campaigned,
their music a tent of sound.

From across a pond, out of the mist,
one drake made a V and said its name.

Some vast animal of air began to rouse
from the reeds and lean outward.

Frogs discovered their
national anthem again.
I didn’t know a ditch could hold
so much joy.

So magic a time it was that I was both brave and afraid.
Some day like this
might save the world.

William Stafford

from Even In Quiet Places © 1996

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16 December 2007

solstice IV: inviting the light


You came to me first as dawn hauled up on ropes
of apricot above the blackened wall of white pine.

You came from the south, from the highest places,
came down from the mountain running.

You were announced by the crows, the shrill
calls of alarm from the uppermost branches.

You opened your throats in a high harsh singing.
I didn’t know what you were and rose trembling

from the deck chair, stood breathless and still
where the woods surrounded me, gathered dark

and darker as if to stall the light.
You came down, two of you: one young and red-bright

the other old, rust streaked with gray.
You pretended not to know me and lay down

beneath a small granite ledge, lay on the fallen
needles, licking light into your fur.

You came to me because I have wanted you.
You came though I had asked for nothing,

because I was full as a river at flood tide
with sadness.

You came to me, rested, and then rose, first one,
then the other, and ran downhill into the morning.

You who assumed the guise of foxes, come again
as you did that morning on the mountainside.

And wasn’t that you who came last summer
as whale boiling up from the waters of Jeffries Shoal?

Wasn’t it you who came in September as wood duck
over the Stoddard marshes, who flew parallel to my car window?

Come to me again as moose invisible on the night road.
Come the way deer steal across the field at dusk.

Come as raccoon, as coyote. Come carrying your burden
of blood and shadow —

come joyous and light with song, come in sleep,
in the unexpected reaches of the day. I am waiting.

Come red-tailed or black-winged; come fluked
and finned, come clawed and taloned,

renew my breath, come full of the mystery
I am only beginning to know.

Patricia Fargnoli

© 1999, Necessary Light

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