poemoftheweek poemoftheweek.com poemoftheweek.org poem of the week
From its haunt within the mountain, what’s hidden calls out.
Star fire. A moon of hazy milk. What more do I want?
I wait until last light opens
into an obedient listening,
a reverie that includes the rapt attention
of the moon, and the pickerel frogs
hard at their vesper canons,
their singing given out with such
jubilant abandon, I sense
the pond, the road,
even the candent lapis of the evening sky
as forms of their strange joy.
When finally its time, I walk
the lane of swamp maples and oaks
and come into the damp, open fields—
and there it is, looking for all the world
as if someone
opened a window up there,
the blurred light of heaven roving out.
I hear only its plangent silence. It requires
Nothing. Awaits nothing. Asks nothing.
I could continue to call it porthole, angel,
herald— or refuse to,
an apophatic reprieve,
its funereal wake of ice and debris all I see,
and gauze at that.
Give the distance, how can I
know what to make of its thunder and furnace,
its burly habit of blazing—
a succession of lucidities so vast,
any sensible humility would catch its breath.
But dear God, all I want is to be here,
my tiny anguish and my joy
a moment’s notice, an equivalent cry
just as two Canadas
honk a path across dark fields,
flying lower than the rim of the long stone wall,
lower than the wetland rushes,
all the gramarye and splendor
of this wide and terrible plentitude somehow
intermingled with their sudden, ragged and ridden, litany.
Full of itself for hours, now wind falls away.
From walking the bottomland
I come up the low rise
just ahead of the last
sweep of shadow down the field—
the sun’s whole round
and the sticks of the winter rose bush
meet— the breast of a bird on its nest,
Flaring its wings.
-from Icon and Evidence
BIO: Margaret Gibson is the author of nine books of poetry and one prose memoir. Louisiana State University Press has published the poetry, most recently One Body (2007). Other titles, all from Louisiana State University Press, include: Long Walks in the Afternoon, the Lamont Selection, 1982; Memories of the Future: The Daybooks of Tina Modotti, the Melville Cane Award given by the Poetry Society of America, 1986-7; Out in the Open, 1989; The Vigil, a Finalist in 1993 for the National Book Award; Earth Elegy, New and Selected Poems, 1997; Icon and Evidence (2001) and Autumn Grasses (2003), finalists for the Connecticut Center for the Book Award in Poetry in 2002 and 2004. Her memoir, The Prodigal Daughter; Reclaiming an Unfinished Childhood, was published by University of Missouri Press in March, 2008. Gibson has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, a Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fellowship, and grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. She has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes and the James Boatright Poetry Prize. She is Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut. Margaret Gibson grew up in Richmond, Virginia; she now lives in Preston, Connecticut.