Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
Food-hunger. Love-hunger. Faith-hunger. Soul-hunger.
Who among us has not been hungry? Who among us has not been vulnerable? Who among us has not been a starving lion? Who among us has not been a prey animal? Who among us has not been a predator?”
— Sherman Alexie, from Sonnet, with Pride
All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
— Kobayashi Issa
“My Mother’s Body” from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time // Marie Howe
Bless my mother’s body, the first song of her beating
heart and her breathing, her voice, which I could dimly hear,
grew louder. From inside her body I heard almost every word she said.
Within that girl I drove to the store and back, her feet pressing
the pedals of the blue car, her voice, first gate to the cold sunny mornings,
rain, moonlight, snow fall, dogs . . .
Her kidneys failed, the womb where I once lived is gone.
Her young astonished body pushed me down that long corridor,
and my body hurt her, I know that—24 years old. I’m old enough
to be that girl’s mother, to smooth her hair, to look into her exultant frightened eyes,
her bedsheets stained with chocolate, her heart in constant failure.
It’s a girl, someone must have said. She must have kissed me
with her mouth, first grief, first air,
and soon I was drinking her, first food, I was eating my mother,
slumped in her wheelchair, one of my brothers pushing it,
across the snowy lawn, her eyes fixed, her face averted.
Bless this body she made, my long legs, her long arms and fingers,
our voice in my throat speaking to you now.
What can you know about a person? They shift
in the light. You can’t light up all sides at once. Add
a second light and you get a second darkness”
— Richard Siken, “Portrait of Fryderyk in Shifting Light”, War of the Foxes
Let others dispose of questions, I dispose of nothing, I arouse
Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
What about these likes of myself that draw me so close by tender
directions and indirections?”
— Walt Whitman, “Myself and Me”, On the Beach at Night Alone