Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Marie Howe (II)

I have shared a poem from Marie Howe before, from the same collection entitled For the Living, and no less than that one is the following a crushing meditation on loss, sorrow, suffering, and the presence/absence of God. The entire series of poems in the book is an enormously open and brutal and courageous journey through death and separation and reunion and hope. I trust the poem below will speak to you as much as it does to me.

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By Marie Howe

Someone or something is leaning close to me now
trying to tell me the one true story of my life:

one note,
low as a bass drum, beaten over and over:

It's beginning summer,
and the man I love has forgotten my smell

the cries I made when he touched me, and my laughter
when he picked me up

and carried me, still laughing, and laid me down,
among the scattered daffodils on the dining room table.

And Jane is dead,
and I want to go where she went,
where my brother went,

and whoever it is that whispered to me

when I was a child in my father's bed is come back now:
and I can't stop hearing:
This is the way it is,
the way it always was and will be --

beaten over and over -- panicking on street corners,
or crouched in the back of taxicabs,

afraid I'll cry out in jammed traffic, and no one will know me or
know where to bring me.

There is, I almost remember,
another story:

It runs alongside this one like a brook inside a train.
The sparrows know it; the grass rises with it.

The wind moves through the highest tree branches without
seeming to hurt them.

Tell me.
Who was I when I used to call your name?

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