In the dark of the moon
under the shadow of our local hydrogen fluff,
I look out of my worn eyes
and see the bright new Pleiades.
My sister lies in a box
in a New England graveyard.
By now her eyes are smears of gristle.
Her little breasts are wizened flaps.
But there, thriving in leaps and burning,
this nursery of stars, young in the universe
and yet so ancient to us.
At the start, without opticals,
they were The Seven Sisters.
We who grow old so fast
may not perceive their turbulent birth.
My darling, suffered so; her cells
bursting and burning, eaten alive.
In this slow terrible way, we come to know
violent chaos at the pure brutal heart.
Stone’s poem, quite effectively, shows the definitive nature of loss against a vast backdrop. Beautiful control of imagery – so typical of this master poet. A shadowy poem that presents – despite the violent chaos at the pure brutal heart – the hope of newness, of birth. A world that is – basically – young. A world that continues both with and without us.
Ordinary Words (Paris Press, 1999)
After Learning That a Distant Friend is Dying
What I can do is small. Imagine—
it is barely spring here, and the wind,
steel-cold, slides off Lake Michigan,
tumbles over miles of just-plowed soybean fields,
and gnarls in the windbreak.
This tall house shudders in the weather,
where, all day,
I am lost and pacing for you.
In the window, tight buds of maples
toss and redden against the day’s grisaille.
I won’t pretend renewal in nature is a promise.
As the vanishing day rakes its teeth
across the eaves, I offer details:
whenever the wind slacks off,
pigeons moan softly in the old barn’s rafters,
and the maples are straining to live.
Owens’ poem, like Stone’s, focuses on the nature of loss, but he centers the view more directly on the world of the one left behind. The feeling, so acutely presented, is helplessness, a true emotional setting for such a moment – … a wind gnarls … the house shudders … buds toss and redden … the day rakes its teeth across the eaves of the house … the maples strain to live.
An Hour is the Doorway (Black Lawrence Press, 2007)