(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)
In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line—
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,
If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other
As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide
The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another
On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe;
One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia
Antica one tomb
May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide another,
One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another—one colonial may hide another,
One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One bath
may hide another bath
As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple
Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein
One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the laboratory
One invention may hide another invention,
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple—this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides
Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in
A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag
Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted by
And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker
May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee
Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another love
or the same love
As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers
The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts"
Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that"
And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In the
Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass
So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where,
Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory
Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about,
The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading
A Sentimental Journey look around
When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see
If it is standing there, it should be, stronger
And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore
May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk
May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and
One song hide another song; a pounding upstairs
Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at the
foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher,
One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man
May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. It
can be important
To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.
From One Train, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Kenneth Koch. Reprinted with permission.
You have rented an apartment. You come to this enclosure with physical relief, your heavy body climbing the stairs in the dark, the hall bulb burned out, the landlord of Greek extraction and possibly a fatalist. In the apartment leaning against one wall, your daughter's painting of a large frilled cabbage against a dark sky with pinpoints of stars. The eager vegetable, opening itself as if to eat the air, or speak in cabbage language of the meanings within meanings; while the points of stars hide their massive violence in the dark upper half of the painting. You can live with this.
From In the Next Galaxy by Ruth Stone. Copyright 2004 Ruth Stone. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.
cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod stove-warmed flatiron slid under the covers, mornings a damascene- sealed bizarrerie of fernwork decades ago now waking in northwest London, tea brought up steaming, a Peak Frean biscuit alongside to be nibbled as blue gas leaps up singing decades ago now damp sheets in Dorset, fog-hung habitat of bronchitis, of long hot soaks in the bathtub, of nothing quite drying out till next summer: delicious to think of hassocks pulled in close, toasting- forks held to coal-glow, strong-minded small boys and big eager sheepdogs muscling in on bookish profundities now quite forgotten the farmhouse long sold, old friends dead or lost track of, what's salvaged is this vivid diminuendo, unfogged by mere affect, the perishing residue of pure sensation
From The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1997. Used with permission from the Estate of Amy Clampitt.
When people say they miss me, I think how much I miss me too, Me, the old me, the great me, Lover of three women in one day, Modest me, the best me, friend To waiters and bartenders, hearty Laugher and name rememberer, Proud me, handsome and hirsute In soccer shoes and shorts On the ball fields behind MIT, Strong me in a weightbelt at the gym, Mutual sweat dripper in and out Of the sauna, furtive observer Of the coeducated and scantily clad, Speedy me, cyclist of rivers, Goose and peregrine falcon Counter, all season venturer, Chatterer-up of corner cops, Groundskeepers, mothers with strollers, Outwitter of panhandlers and bill Collectors, avoider of levies, excises, Me in a taxi in the rain, Pressing my luck all the way home. That's me at the dice table, baby, Betting come, little Joe, and yo, Blowing the coals, laying thunder, My foot on top a fifty dollar chip Some drunk spilled on the floor, Dishonest me, evener of scores, Eager accepter of the extra change, Hotel towel pilferer, coffee spoon Lifter, fervent retailer of others' Humor, blackhearted gossiper, Poisoner at the well, dweller In unsavory detail, delighted sayer Of the vulgar, off course belier Of the true me, empiric builder Newly haircutted, stickerer-up For pals, jam unpriser, medic To the self-inflicted, attorney To the self-indicted, petty accountant And keeper of the double books, Great divider of the universe And all its forms of existence Into its relationship to me, Fellow trembler to the future, Thin air gawker, apprehender Of the frameless door.
From Dig Safe by Stuart Dischell. Copyright © 2003 by Stuart Dischell. Reprinted by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.