November 30, 2012

You don't need to know a thing about quantum entanglement, wherein one atom can affect another even though they are separated by tremendous distance, to have some sense that our lives are always larger than the physical limitations within which they occur. We exist apart from our existences, you might say; we are connected to the world and to other people in ways we will never be able to fully articulate or understand... There is such a thing as a collective unconscious. There is such a thing as a spirit of place, and it reaches beyond geography. And poetry, which is a kind of quantum entanglement in language, is not simply a way of helping us to recognize the relations we have with people and places but a means of preserving and protecting those relations. For many people, true, poetry will remain remote, inaccessible... But who knows by what unconscious routes poetry is reaching into lives that seem to have nothing to do with it? Who knows what atomic energies are unleashed by a solitary man or woman quietly encountering some arrangement of language that gives their being--shunted aside by chores and fears and who knows what--back to them? 

- Christian Wiman

November 24, 2012

Sabbaths: XV

by Wendell Berry

The painter Harlan Hubbard said
that he was painting Heaven when
the places he painted merely were
the Campbell or the Trimble County
banks of the Ohio, or farms
and hills where he had worked or roamed:
a house's gable and roofline
rising from a fold in the hills,
trees bearing snow, two shanty boats
at dawn, immortal light upon
the flowing river in its bends.
And these were Heavenly because
he never saw them clear enough
to satisfy his love, his need
to see them all again, again.

November 04, 2012


by Linda Pastan

Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality
of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.
And since we will be
horizontal ourselves
for so long,
let us now honor
the gods
of the vertical:
stalks of wheat
which to the ant
must seem as high
as these trees do to us,
silos and
telephone poles,
and skyscrapers.
But most of all
these winter oaks,
these soft-fleshed poplars,
this birch
whose bark is like
roughened skin
against which I lean
my chilled head,
not ready
to lie down.