love itself

WestWords Perfect Pair

 

IMG_0981

 

 

North Carolina today, it’s the birthplace of poet and writer Tony Hoagland, best known for poignant poems that comment on contemporary American life and culture. His collections include What Narcissism Means to Me, 2003 from which this poem comes.  I think it’s one of the most romantic contemporary love poems I’ve read in recent times.  It’s so ordinary, so simple so utterly heartbreaking.  But it’s about loving somebody, loving them wholly and completely, their flaws and fascinations. Both in life and in death, forever seeing what drew you to them in the first place.  This is:

 

WINDCHIME
By Tony Hoagland

She goes out to hang the wind chime
in her nightie and her work boots.

It’s six-thirty in the morning
and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,
wind chime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she’s trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.
She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the wind chime
wasn’t making
because it wasn’t there.

No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands upon the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.

 

Advertisements

The Painter Of The Night

755833986_50f5bf96f5_m

Pulitzer Prize winning American poet James Tate passed away yesterday. His character driven poetry was much admired. He was born in Missouri in 1943 and was professor of English at the University of Massachusettes. His first book of poems The Lost Pilot, 1967 won the Yale Younger Poets Award and his collection Worshipful Company Of Fletchers won the National Book Award in 1994. At The Clothesline is one of my favourites, so simple yet so powerful. RIP

AT THE CLOTHESLINE 
by James Tate

Millie was in the backyard hanging the
laundry. I was watching her from the kitchen
window. Why does this give me so much pleasure?
Because I love her in a million ways, and because
I love the idea of clean laundry flapping in
the wind. It’s timeless, a new beginning, a
promise of tomorrow. Clothespins! God, I love
clothespins. We should stock up on them. Some
day they may stop making them, and then what?
If I were a painter, I would paint Millie hanging
the laundry. That would be a painting that
would make you happy, and break your heart.
You would never know what was in her mind, big
thoughts, little thoughts, no thoughts. Did she
see the hawk circling overhead? Did she
hate hanging laundry? Was she going to run away
with a sailor? The sheets billowing like sails
on an ancient skiff, the socks waving goodbye.
Millie, O Millie, do you remember me? The man
who travelled with cloth napkins and loved you
in the great storm.

WestWords Perfect Pair 22.06.2014

 

North Carolina, birthplace of poet and writer Tony Hoagland.  His collections include What Narcissism Means to Me, 2003 and Donkey Gospel, which received the James Laughlin Award. Followed by Love Itself from Canadian musician and poet Leonard Cohen, this is:

WINDCHIME
By Tony Hoagland

She goes out to hang the wind chime
in her nightie and her work boots.

It’s six-thirty in the morning
and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,
wind chime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she’s trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.
She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the wind chime
wasn’t making
because it wasn’t there.

No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands upon the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.