why it works

May 14, 2009

When poetry works it turns language into art. Just read.


A Night in Martirios

Sometimes when the story is wildly implausible
the author will have one character say
I have a hard time believing this
and the other explains:
it’s the axle working loose,
the fog in the orchards,
controlled fires in the canebrake.

Now we are resting at twilight
on a frayed floral quilt
and the dimity curtains open
in the wind from Orizaba.

Now the author has the characters undress
and sleep together, they are naked
as the space between words,
the lamp is unlit, the bed unmade,
the silence is absolute,
occasionally a faint hiss of rain
or the scritch as the author
erases his own name.


Maybe we may talk our way out of death
given that the I disappears so disingenuously
whenever you look for it, so does the poem,
leaving only the track of a snail
in the stucco alcove where we catnapped
in Evora, in late summer, scrunched
in the osier bed, before you knew me,
before I didn’t know you, when the future ended,
cracked sun in the mirror, when the finches
instructed us in thin scattered voices
to stand our ground against delight.

D. Nurkse


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