Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rhythm on the brain (An Inflorecence - Poet Rachel Wetzsteon)

In-flo-res-cence - from the Latin inflorescere - to begin to blossom. 1. the producing of blossoms; flowering; 2. the arrangement of flowers on a stem or axis; 3. a flower cluster on a common axis; 4. flowers collectively; 5. a solitary flower, regarded as a reduced cluster.

Since I appear to have rhythm on the brain these days (see below), it would be remiss of me not to include a little poetry in ushering in our new year. Sadly, my acquaintance with New York poet Rachel Wetzsteon has been occasioned by her death. I thank fellow blogger and excellent poet Mark Doty for the introduction nonetheless. I admire local artists - those who pursue deep knowledge of a subject, a place, a color - through their medium as the magnificent playwright Horton Foote did for his corner of Southern Texas, or as Agnes Martin's deep investigation of feeling through her minimalist expressionist paintings in fields of gentle color. That is what Rachel Wetzsteon seemed to be doing in her intense, wry, urban compositions largely set in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York. I want to read more.

As both Mark and the New York Times offered her poem "Sakura Park" I thought I would post these two - the first an unseasonal invocation to autumn, the second a playfully intelligent evocation on longing:

Commands for the End of Summer


leaves, not with what
has made us sorry but
with what was profound about that


Make me
gathering winds, but don’t
blow so giddily I teeter
too much.


Songs I
listened to all
summer long, accept my
thanks: to regress is not to move


Splash of
patchouli on
my wrist, remind me that
in this cauldron there is a world


Smile! Those
days of humid
agony have earned you
the right to a hundred purple


Come, fall,
I can feel you
stirring, I can hardly
wait for the things that will happen
come fall.

Five-Finger Exercise

When things get hot and heavy this weekend or one August
twenty years from now, and I start tapping hexameters
up and down the shoulder-blades of my beloved (insert
auspicious, trustworthy-sounding, stolid but fun name here
for I can conjure none), I hope I do it right,
never losing sight of the skin whose golden toughness
allows the counting, never moving my fingers so briskly
that I can't hear his breathing, and never forgetting, even
in the lonely heights of sublimest inspiration—
What is your substance?... O rose ... and grey and full of sleep—
to flip the warm flesh over and whisper, It had to be you.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Thank you so much for your comments and for posting two of Rachel Wetzsteon's poems. I was saddened to hear of her death. Her poetry is very important to me and I am grateful to you for honoring her memory in this way.