Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For Chris and Olga

Beauty of the Moon
Originally uploaded by MacroFocus.

Olga passed last night, the mother of my dear friend, Chris. Olga had two daughters and each was by her side as she lay at peace. Olga was Ukrainian. Her husband (also from the Ukraine) preceded her in death by thirty years, almost to the day. So with a bow to these dear women and all that lived between them, I offer these notes... not speaking of them directly- but rather the poet laureates Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall. Why these two? Because they're poets and they lived and loved and poetry speaks better than mere words at a time like this.

Twilight: After Haying
by Jane Kenyon

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)

The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed--
Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will
--sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen. . .the soul's bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses. . .

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.

Finding A Long Gray Hair
by Jane Kenyon

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.

Jane Kenyon was an American poet and translator. She was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the midwest. While a student at the University of Michigan, Kenyon met the poet Donald Hall; though he was some twenty years her senior, she married him in 1972, and they moved to Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in New Hampshire. Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate when she died in April of 1995 from leukemia. Hall currently is the US Poet Laureate. Without: Poems was published on the third anniversary of Jane Kenyon's death. Most of the poems in Without deal with Kenyon's illness and death, and many are epistolary.