Monday, August 26, 2013

Paavo Haavikko

The children get this face of mine
When I start a new life
As soil, as vegetation,
   retiring from poems.
But where does my breath go then?
And how can I be happy
Not seeing the pigs sprouting hooves,
   the asparagus ripening, golden . . . Oh,
It is late,
My grandfather's fate,
A terrifying example.
He was too slow, all of forty-four
   (and that
Is too damn late) when he retired,
Oh, it takes the whole man
Just to listen to the winds
From sunrise to sunset
   and all night long,
Oh, it takes all your strength
   to really be at rest:
There is no footpath
   to the gods.

--Paavo Haavikko
tr. Anselm Hollo

in Paavo Haavikko and Tomas Tranströmer: Selected Poems
[Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1974]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Katherine Coles

The Double Leash

*       Blizzard to lilac. Dandelion
to leaf. Endless
variation of seasons I note

                in passing, smells
        I cannot smell: rotting
        gardens, feces, musk of cat.

*       These two

                run in front of me, golden
        shoulder to patchwork, heads
        lifted or lowered into

                scent, tongues lolling. Ears
        damp with their own
        spittle and each other's

                tell me, tethered a pace behind,
        their journey's epic: tipping
        forward to the familiar or
        stranger's distant yap; angling

                to my breathing, whispered
        praise, my slightest

*       Ignored.

*       The shepherd

                throws herself into

                any whirring wheel, to herd
        the neighbor's tractor mower or
        the UPS truck's packets
        home; pulling her back,

                the golden's oblivious
        ballast, instinct heading
        always for the gutter's

                deepest puddle, her own way
        within the forked leash's
        one-foot range. As we pass,

                the clans set up
        their barking, as if we
        were news, gathering center

                of a congenial warning
        din--mine answer with
        disturbances of pace, an extra pull
        or lollop, grins thrown

                slant-eyed over shoulders
        until one hears a call
        she can't ignore, surrenders

                to baying's ferocious
        joy moving through
        muscle and bone. Moving
        storm, storm's eye: happy

                universes whirl in their skins
        as I do in mine. Unknowable,
        their fate. Mediums between
        foreign principalities, they're tied

                to me, to each other, by my will,
        by love; to that other realm
        by song, and tooth, and blood.

        fr. Poetry (Chicago), August, 1998