I have returned after a trip to Bard-and-back with much dirty college laundry (and a child, a precious child) and a middle school concert and a staying-up-late-and-getting-up-early time to help with test-studying for the youngest, whose study hours were eaten up by said concert plus wrestling. So today I feel like an old-fasioned zombie: not those new, fashionable zippy ones but a lurching, slow-moving monster. But I am going out to lunch with painter friend Yolanda Sharpe (that will be fun) and to a show with work by another friend, Makoto Fujimura. Unfortunately, the shambling zombie-of-me is rather sleepy.
GARDEN AFTER WINTER’S FIRST STORM
rustling like white leaves, it fell through
night. Borders vanished. The world
Is suspended, its riotous differences
almost erased. Here is
what’s left. Twigs reaching,
In clear bark that may snap them.
Flat hulls that hang. Wasted pedicels.
Winter’s first garden shows
x-rays. These harmonious outlines
are phenomena standing, noiseless,
in self-silhouette, given
dimension by time. Day’s moods
in their light become no more
than petals. Out in the sunbed, a dry
rainbow unbolts—buff, umber, cinnamon,
hazel, auburn, sepia, rust. A front
has moved past. The visible
I feel more wakeful already because Jeanne is being wakeful. Immediately I like the rustling that leads to silence, the idea of “self-silhouette,” the dry and austere rainbow, the shift of spectrum, the move from the riotous to the more streamlined world. The complicated, multi-syllabic line four gives way to utter simplicity: “Here is / what’s left.” The poet has a good ear (singing to us from the start through consonance like snowfall-layer-sleet-leaves-rustling, assonance like sleet-leaves, and the occasional rhyme.) The stanza breaks sometimes rise to significance (a thing that would be annoying were it constant, but is just the right amount here), as when she breaks between “The world” and “is suspended” or gives us surprise in the move from “sunbed, a dry” to “rainbow.”