Love comes quietly,
finally, drops
about me, on me,
in the old ways.

What did I know
thinking myself
able to go
alone all the way.

From For Love: Poems. Copyright © 1962 by Robert Creeley. Used with permission of the Estate of Robert Creeley and The Permissions Company.

When someone dies, the clothes are so sad. They have outlived
their usefulness and cannot get warm and full.
You talk to the clothes and explain that he is not coming back

as when he showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid jacket
and had that beautiful smile on and you’d talk.
You’d go to get something and come back and he’d be gone.

You explain death to the clothes like that dream.
You tell them how much you miss the spouse
and how much you miss the pet with its little winter sweater.

You tell the worn raincoat that if you talk about it,
you will finally let grief out. The ancients etched the words
for battle and victory onto their shields and then they went out

and fought to the last breath. Words have that kind of power
you remind the clothes that remain in the drawer, arms stubbornly
folded across the chest, or slung across the backs of chairs,

or hanging inside the dark closet. Do with us what you will,
they faintly sigh, as you close the door on them.
He is gone and no one can tell us where.

Copyright © 2015 by Emily Fragos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated by Ana Valverde Osan

To say goodbye means so little.
We said goodbye to childhood
and it came after us like a dog
tracking our steps.
To say goodbye: to shut that obstinate door that refuses to remain closed,
the persistent scar that oozes memory.
To say goodbye: to say no; who achieves it?
Whoever found the magic key?
Whoever found the point that slides us toward oblivion,
the land that will extirpate the roots
without remaining forever closed over them?
To say goodbye: to turn one’s back; but
who knows where the back is?
Who knows the way that does not die in the well-traveled shortcut.
To say goodbye: to yell because one is saying something
and to cry because nothing is being said;
because saying goodbye is never enough,
because to say goodbye completely
might be to find the spot where to turn one’s back,
the spot to sink oneself into the final no
while life slowly seeps out.


Despedida

Decir adiós quiere decir tan poco.
Adiós dijimos a la infancia
y vino detrás nuestro como un perro
rastreando nuestros pasos.
Decir adiós: cerrar esa obstinada puerta que se niega,
la persistente cicatriz que destila memoria.
Decir adiós: decir que no; ¿quién lo consigue?
¿quién encontró la mágica llave?
¿quién el punto que nos desliza hasta el olvido,
la mano que extirpará raíces
sin quedarse para siempre cerrada sobre ellas?
Decir adiós: volver la espalda; pero
¿quién sabe donde está la espalda?
¿quién conoce el camino que no muere en el pisado atajo?
Decir adiós: gritar porque se está diciendo
y llorar porque no se dice nada;
porque decir adiós nunca es bastante,
porque tal vez decir adiós completamente
sea encontrar el recodo donde volver la espalda,
donde hundirse en el no definitivo
mientras escapa lentamente la vida.

Francisca Aguirre, “Farewell / Despedida” from Ithaca. Copyright © 1972 by Francisca Aguirre. Translation copyright © 2004 by Ana Valverde Osan. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

There is no magic any more,
      We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
      Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
      There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
      Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
      And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
      For all its peace.

This poem is in the public domain.

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

"So Much Happiness" from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of Far Corner Books.

Tags of songs, like salvaged buttons
off vanished dresses, a date
Thursday a week at eight, some guilt
for a cab she not only could not afford but:
pretty immoment matter
greets Dorabella's mounting
or are they subtracting moments. "Surely
should be otherwise, should stop, be
thought about, have other quality
than surprise. When was I last surprised?"
Now more a lilac in rain than a crocus
between her office and some gin, Dorabella
herself encounters numerously,
a not so bad looker for a tied and dyed,
a moustached nun of dubious inner life,
a character actress of no talent and less means,
a swami-smitten dowager needling a dull chauffeur,
or a hurrying woman smoothing gloves.

"What would it be like
to change, sharply as a traffic light?"

Dorabella makes a face
at life, and hurries.

From Collected Poems by James Schuyler. Copyright © 1993 by James Schuyler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux . All rights reserved.

My life was the size of my life.
Its rooms were room-sized,
its soul was the size of a soul.
In its background, mitochondria hummed,
above it sun, clouds, snow,
the transit of stars and planets.
It rode elevators, bullet trains,
various airplanes, a donkey.
It wore socks, shirts, its own ears and nose.
It ate, it slept, it opened
and closed its hands, its windows.
Others, I know, had lives larger.
Others, I know, had lives shorter.
The depth of lives, too, is different.
There were times my life and I made jokes together.
There were times we made bread.
Once, I grew moody and distant.
I told my life I would like some time,
I would like to try seeing others.
In a week, my empty suitcase and I returned.
I was hungry, then, and my life,
my life, too, was hungry, we could not keep
our hands off       our clothes on   
our tongues from

—2012

Originally published in The Beauty (Knopf, 2015); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…
Hosea 4:6

We forget the land we stand on
and live from. We set ourselves
free in an economy founded
on nothing, on greed verified
by fantasy, on which we entirely
depend. We depend on fire
that consumes the world without
lighting it. To this dark blaze
driving the inert metal
of our most high desire
we offer our land as fuel,
thus offering ourselves at last
to be burned. This is our riddle
to which the answer is a life
that none of us has lived.

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Berry. From This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems (Counterpoint Press, 2013). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

There were photographers:
Mothers arranging their
children against
gnarled old trees;
a couple, hugging,
asks a passerby
to snap them
like that,
so that their love
will always be caught
between two friendships:
ours & the friendship
of the cherry trees.

Oh Cherry,
why can’t my poems
be as beautiful?


A young woman in a fur-trimmed
coat sets a card table
with linens, candles,
a picnic basket & wine.
A father tips
a boy’s wheelchair back
so he can gaze
up at a branched
heaven.
                     All around us
the blossoms
flurry down
whispering,

        Be patient
you have an ancient beauty.

                                            Be patient,
                                  you have an ancient beauty.

From The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburg Press, 2011). All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Used with permission.