09 June 2013

Where pain winces off the walls

                              Three Poems by Linda Pastan

Notes From the Delivery Room

Strapped down,  
victim in an old comic book,
I have been here before,
this place where pain winces
off the walls
like too bright light.
Bear down a doctor says,
foreman to sweating laborer,
but this work, this forcing
of one life from another
is something that I signed for
at a moment which I would have signed anything.
Babies should grow in fields;
common as beets or turnips
they should be picked and held
root end up, soil spilling
from between their toes --
how much easier it would be later,
returning them to earth.
Bear up . . . bear down . . . the audience
grows restive, and I'm a new magician
who can't produce the rabbit
from my swollen hat.
She's crowning, someone says,
but there is no one royal here,
just me, quite barefoot,
greeting my barefoot child.

Adam Remembering

We lived in such sweet chaos, once.
The cats slept on the Sunday Times,
flies buzzed, lost in a maze of sugar,
a bird pecked at the tassels of a lamp.
Nothing was named yet, nothing numbered.
We loved each other as we pleased,
on the blue bathroom tiles, like fish
or in the dusty flower beds,
absolved by heat.
For middle age we kept one yellow cat,
the smell of apples rotting in a bowl,
the surprise of endings.


"The extent of injury which can be directly attributed to occupation reached astounding proportions in the U.S. . . . ." Industrial Hygiene, by Wson Smillie

The poets are falling, falling
like leaves on a wind of their own words:
Dylan Thomas over the sheer edge of America;
Sylvia Plath (with and Gretel combined)
into the hospitable oven.

The poets are plugging the dike with words,
then walking calmly into the sea.
Hart Crane on a Wednesday in slippery April,
Randall Jarrell, Delmore Schwartz, Weldon Kees.
And at the factory

girls paint time's face with radium
and slowly burn; miners slip, hand over hand,
into the blind grave.
Only poets safe at their desks hear death years away,
and full of the intensity of words,
rush to meet it.

From, Linda Pastan,  A Perfect Circle of Sun, 1971.

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