Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't Tell Anyone - Tony Hoagland

We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
concealing anything,
not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.
For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently,

politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun
to be ripped by the crooked beak

of something called psychology,
to be dipped down
again and again into time;

that the truest, most intimate
pleasure you can sometimes find
is the wet kiss

of your own pain.
There goes Kath, at one PM, to swim her twenty-two laps
back and forth in the community pool;

—what discipline she has!
Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,
that will never be read by anyone.

Monday, July 13, 2015

From The Book of Hours, I 59, Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Go Back To The House For A Book - Billy Collins

I turn around on the gravel 
and go back to the house for a book, 
something to read at the doctor’s office, 
and while I am inside, running the finger 
of inquisition along a shelf, 
another me that did not bother 
to go back to the house for a book 
heads out on his own, 
rolls down the driveway, 
and swings left toward town, 
a ghost in his ghost car, 
another knot in the string of time, 
a good three minutes ahead of me— 
a spacing that will now continue 
for the rest of my life. 
Sometimes I think I see him 
a few people in front of me on a line 
or getting up from a table 
to leave the restaurant just before I do, 
slipping into his coat on the way out the door. 
But there is no catching him, 
no way to slow him down 
and put us back in synch, 
unless one day he decides to go back 
to the house for something, 
but I cannot imagine 
for the life of me what that might be. 
He is out there always before me, 
blazing my trail, invisible scout, 
hound that pulls me along, 
shade I am doomed to follow, 
my perfect double, 
only bumped an inch into the future, 
and not nearly as well-versed as I 
in the love poems of Ovid— 
I who went back to the house 
that fateful winter morning and got the book.