Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Not the riverbank. Not the sedges
                   or the black hum

of blow flies that feed off a corpse.
                    Not the river. Not

its indifferent current. Not the bridge
                   or how it bemoans 

the loss of someone who’s left town
                 —the year, the date, 

unimportant. Not the address scribbled 
                  onto scrap paper.

Not the hospital or the room at home,
                 pulsing and humid.

Not the midwife who prays between 
                parted legs. Not

the just born baby. Not his open mouth 
               forming its first 

word because the word is stillborn. Not
                the afterbirth,

its collapse, a memory of its last breath. 
                 No. None of this.

I pretend I’m well-mannered and polite.
                 Wet with my grief.

Barefoot. Burdened by footprints I follow,
                those I’ve trekked

in the mud. I’ve come with no good sense
               of discretion. I seek

sins and secrets, what remains I excavate
                 from the coffin

or confessional. My tongue is pickled 
                in a jar of ink. 

The months have fed from my body 
               by the handful. 

Even so, I foam at the mouth for what
              was never mine.

Copyright © 2022 by Ángel García. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 28, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.