poem index

Oct. 16, 2009 Tischman Auditorium, New York CityFrom the Academy Audio Archive

In Flight

Jennifer K. Sweeney
The Himalayan legend says
there are beautiful white birds
that live completely in flight.
They are born in the air,

must learn to fly before falling
and die also in their flying.
Maybe you have been born
into such a life

with the bottom dropping out.
Maybe gravity is claiming you
and you feel
ghost-scripted.

For the one who lives inside the fall,
the sky beneath the sky of all.

Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer K. Sweeney. Reprinted from How to Live on Bread and Music, with the permission of Perugia Press, www.perugiapress.com, Florence, Massachusetts.

Jennifer K. Sweeney

Jennifer K. Sweeney

by this poet

poem

The snow leopard mother runs straight
down the mountain.
Elk cliff. Blizzard.
Hammers keening
into the night.
Her silence and wild
falling is a compass
of hunger and memory. Breath
prints on the carried-away body.
This is how it goes so far away
from our ripening

poem
Stupidity helps.
Naiveté that your hands will undo
what does perfectly without you.
My husband and I made the decision
not to stop until the task was done,
the small anemic tree made room
for something prettier.
We’d pulled before, pale hand over wide hand,
a marriage of pulling toward us what we wanted,
pushing
poem
On average, odd years have been the best for me.

I’m at a point where everyone I meet looks like a version
of someone I already know.

Without fail, fall makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never experienced.

The sky is molting. I don’t know
if this is global warming or if the atmosphere is reconfiguring
itself