Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hodgepodge 108/365 - Love Poems

Two poems today, by two people who loved each other. The first, Jane Kenyon, died too young, at age 47 (in 1995) of leukemia; the second, her husband, Poet Laureate Donald Hall (b. 1928), is still with us. Here is a charming piece of prose he wrote in 2005 about their life together; it's called "The Third Thing." There is also this hour-long documentary by Bill Moyers about the couple. I have not seen it, but it is now on my list. I love both their poetry. I am glad they got to have 23 years together—though it's wrong that she was the first to go.

Peonies at Dusk

by Jane Kenyon

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it’s coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.

Weeds and Peonies

by Donald Hall
c. 2007

Your peonies burst out, white as snow squalls,
with red flecks at their shaggy centers
in your border of prodigies by the porch.
I carry one magnanimous blossom indoors
and float it in a glass bowl, as you used to do.

Ordinary pleasures, contentment recollected,
blow like snow into the abandoned garden,
overcoming the daisies. Your blue coat
vanishes down Pond Road into imagined snowflakes
with Gus at your side, his great tail swinging,

but you will not reappear, tired and satisfied,
and grief’s repeated particles suffuse the air—
like the dog yipping through the entire night,
or the cat stretching awake, then curling
as if to dream of her mother’s milky nipples.

A raccoon dislodged a geranium from its pot.
Flowers, roots, and dirt lay upended
in the back garden where lilies begin
their daily excursions above stone walls
in the season of old roses. I pace beside weeds

and snowy peonies, staring at Mount Kearsarge
where you climbed wearing purple hiking boots.
“Hurry back. Be careful, climbing down.”
Your peonies lean their vast heads westward
as if they might topple. Some topple.

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