Sunday, December 17, 2017

Chanukah Poems, Part II

And two more for the fourth and fifth days of Hanukkah. For the sixth, I read a poem I posted here in July, "You Can't Have It All" by Barbara Ras.

What Now Is Like

Tamara Madison

Let’s go see what Now
is like outside.
Let’s open the door
look up at the sky
feel the cold night air
on our noses.
Let’s look at our breath
as we walk out
to the street.
Let’s look at how Now
holds the moon
in black branches,
how stars shine down
with a Now from long
long ago, how
they stare down
on our Now which
has coaxed them
to wink at us.
Let’s listen
to the night sounds
that rove the dark Now
beneath the traffic.
Let’s stop, look back
into the Now at the end
of the street; there
is something there
but I know it is behind us
in a place called Then
where our footprints
have forgotten
we ever made them.


C. K. Williams

Another drought morning after a too-brief dawn downpour,
uncountable silvery glitterings on the leaves of the withering maples—

I think of a troop of the blissful blessed approaching Dante,
"a hundred spheres shining," he rhapsodizes, "the purest pearls . . . ,"

then of the frightening, brilliant, myriad gleam in my lamp
of the eyes of the vast swarm of bats I found once in a cave,

a chamber whose walls seethed with a spaceless carpet of creatures,
their cacophonous, keen, insistent, incessant squeakings and squealings

churning the warm, rank, cloying air, of how one,
perfectly still among all the fitfully twitching others,

was looking straight at me, gazing solemnly, thoughtfully up
from beneath the intricate furl of its leathery wings

as though it couldn't believe I was there, or was trying to place me,
to situate me in the gnarl we'd evolved from, and now,

the trees still heartrendingly asparkle, Dante again,
this time the way he'll refer to a figure he meets as "the life of . . . ,"

not the soul, or person, the life, and once more the bat, and I,
our lives in that moment together, our lives, our lives,

his with no vision of celestial splendor, no poem,
mine with no flight, no unblundering dash through the dark,

his without realizing it would, so soon, no longer exist,
mine having to know for us both that everything ends,

world, after-world, even their memory, steamed away
like the film of uncertain vapor of the last of the luscious rain.

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