Prayer Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re- infolding, entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by minutest fractions the ...
Prayer Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re- infolding, entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by minutest fractions the water' s downdrafts and upswirls, the dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into itself (it has those layers), a real current though mostly invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing motion that forces change -- this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself, also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go. I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never. It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never. Afterwards And translucence itself, bare, bony, feeding and growing on the manifest, frets in the small puddles of snowmelt sidewalks and frozen lawns hold up full of sky. From this eternity, where we do notresemble ourselves, where resemblance is finally beside (as the river is) the point, and attention can no longer change the outcome of the gaze, the ear too is finally sated, starlings starting up ladderings of chatter, all at once all to the left, invisible in the pruned-back hawthorn, heard and heard again, and yet again differently heard, but silting the head with inwardness and making always a dispersing but still coalescing opening in the listener who cannot look at them exactly, since they are invisible inside the greens -- though screeching-full in syncopations of yellowest, fine-thought, finespun rivering of almost-knowables. "Gold" is too dark. "Featherwork" too thick. When two appear in flight, straight to the child-sized pond of melted snow, and thrash, dunk, rise, shake, rethrashing, reconfiguring through reshufflings and resettlings the whole body of integrated featherwork, they shatter open the blue-and-tree-tip filled-up gaze of the lawn' s two pools, breaking and ruffling all the crisp true sky we had seen living down in that tasseled earth. How shall we say this happened? Something inaudible has ceased. Has gone back round to an other side of which this side' s access was [is] this width of sky deep in just-greening soil? We left the party without a word. We did not change, but time changed us. It should be, it seems, one or the other of us who is supposed to say -- lest there be nothing -- here we are. It was supposed to become familiar (this earth). It was to become "ours." Lest there be nothing? Lest wereach down to touch our own reflection here? Shouldn' t depth come to sight and let it in, in the end, as the form the farewell takes: representation: dead men: lean forward and look in: the raggedness of where the openings are: precision of the limbs upthrusting down to hell: the gleaming in: so blue: and that it has a bottom: even a few clouds if you keep attending: and something that' s an edge-of: and mind-cracks: and how the poem is about that: that distant life: I carry it inside me but can plant it into soil: so that it becomes impossible to say that anything swayed from in to out: then back to "is thi
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-02-25 The forebodingly absolute title of Graham's ninth collection does not set the tone for all of this book's 27 lyrics, which range over "starlings starting up ladderings of chatter"; an "Editor" and a "Speaking subject" trading stanzas and lines in "Solitude"; the minutes just before, during and after the striking of noon taken up by permutations of "Hunger," and many other eternities in a moment. Less doom-ridden and biblical than 2000's Swarm, Never collects work that appeared in magazines like the New Yorker and the Times Literary Supplement over the last few years. If the double and triple sets of parentheses "(swarming but swaying in unison, without advancing) (waiting for some arrival) (the channel of them quickening)" and brackets "["protection"] ["money"] [paying them to go away] [gold]" don't seem quite as fresh as when Graham first started using them, they do remain more than a stylistic tic, as she attempts to trace the comings and goings of thought orthographically. Similarly, in moves familiar from previous books, Graham frequently uses terms like "Firstness" and "Subsequence" to carry the conceptual weight the speaker's perceptions, and here stretches them to the point where they signify distance from ordinary life, rather than transcendence of it. More than anything else, this book shows Graham to be a most formidable nature poet, finding in her speaker's environment perfect analogues for states of consciousness: "All day there had been clouds and expectation of sun. It could `break through' anytime, they said." (Apr. 5) Forecast: Graham won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for The Dream of the Unified Field and this book will generate attention on its own. This is also probably the first time in U.S. history that the country's leading poets are women. Graham, Anne Carson and Louise Glck get most of the press, but look for National Poetry Month profiles and round-up reviews celebrating the achievements of others, including Rae Armantrout, Wanda Coleman, Lyn Hejinian, Myung-Mi Kim, Ann Lauterbach, Harryette Mullen, Alice Notley and Adrienne Rich all of whom have recent books. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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