Thursday, January 31, 2008

window poem at 9:04 am

While I waited to call the travel agent back this morning, I picked up the copy of Wendell Berry's Collected Poems 1957-1982 that I got when I went through my poetry-buying rash, which also included the purchase of multiple collections from Billy Collins and Deborah Garrison. Today, I opened the book randomly to the Window Poems section. Before I found this larger collection in the bookstore, I nearly bought this originally handprinted, hardbound copy of Window Poems because of the accompanying woodcuts throughout. But I bought the larger collection instead -- more for the money, said conscience at the time -- though I had forgotten the window series was collected in it. So this morning, by chance, I opened to number 6 in the series of poems about windows and was somewhat "inspired" to try my hand at one. After all the most beloved aspect of my room is the, well, windows.

window poem at 9:04 am

I think my two are facing south and west.
I don't have the sense of direction like
These farmers whose land the eyes overlook,
That sense of understanding seen in the
Sun's eye as he does his thing, or as the
Moderns would have it, as we do our thing.
But it's the last day of January,
And who can trust the sun this time of year?

I prefer the one that I think opens
To the south, with the hills rising into
Its second-floor view. Gray trees line the top
Of the slopes, reminding me of that bed
Of pins that, if you push your hand into
Its points, there is a metallic model
Of your topography on the other
Side. Upstretched limbs thus indicate the land.

The white pseudo-panes and faux-wood blinds are
Transparent graph paper: It's an upward
Trend with a slight decline at the moment.
(I imagine Al on that dramatic
Hydraulic thing that lifted him into
The rafters in front of the red-lined screen.)
We are peaking somewhere near the middle
Of the last pane, at about the sixth slat,
Depending on how I hold my head. But
You know, numbers do not ever lie.


Of course, this was before I went back and started reading Window Poems from the beginning, a very good place to start, as it turns out.

"The window has forty
panes, forty clarities
variously wrinkled, streaked
with dried rain, smudged,
dusted. The frame
is a black grid
beyond which the world
flings up the wild
graph of its growth,
tree branch, river,
slope of land,
the river passing
downward, the clouds blowing,
usually, from the west,
the opposite way.
The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild
that is a pattern too,
but dark and flowing,
bearing along the little
shapes of the mind
as the river bears
a sash of some blinded house.
This windy day
on one of the panes
a blown seed, caught
in cobweb, beats and beats."

Wendell Berry
Window Poems, number 3


Well said, Wendell. Well said.

1 comment:

william said...

muy bien. i like yours better.