her nose to the ground,
a rusty shadow
neither hunting nor playing.
One stood; sat; lay down; stood again.
One never moved,
except to turn her head a little as we walked.
Finally we drew too close,
and they vanished.
The woods took them back as if they had never been.
I wish I had thought to put my face to the grass.
But we kept walking,
speaking as strangers do when becoming friends.
There is more and more I tell no one,
strangers nor loves.
This slips into the heart
without hurry, as if it had never been.
And yet, among the trees, something has changed.
Something looks back from the trees,
and knows me for who I am.
Originally published in The Lives of the Heart (HarperCollins, 1997); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.
As if there could be a world
Of absolute innocence
In which we forget ourselves
The owners throw sticks
And half-bald tennis balls
Toward the surf
And the happy dogs leap after them
As if catapulted—
Black dogs, tan dogs,
Tubes of glorious muscle—
More than obedience
They race, skid to a halt in the wet sand,
Sometimes they'll plunge straight into
The foaming breakers
Like diving birds, letting the green turbulence
Toss them, until they snap and sink
Teeth into floating wood
Then bound back to their owners
Shining wet, with passionate speed
For absolutely nothing but joy.
Copyright © 1998 by Alicia Ostriker. Used with permission of the author.
There are baby thoughts in the shape of seaweed & pirate knives they float over strips of shores & curl into a rainy parasol where a laboring red papaya truck awaits & there are the thoughts of Staff Sergeant Melanie Lippman—she's back from Afghanistan & cheers as a rhomboid ball burns through the flags of space— but she notices distant jagged zones on fire where the Company battles & there are the thoughts of a father Don Jose Emiliano in plaid with water on his face—his only son on the wet field for the first time—he is a man now how his fury tumbles & finds a route to launch & spin his body toward a shifting goal—is that my son he says.
Copyright © 2015 by Juan Felipe Herrera. Used with permission of the author.
Fall fell: so that's it for the leaf poetry: some flurries have whitened the edges of roads and lawns: time for that, the snow stuff: & turkeys and old St. Nick: where am I going to find something to write about I haven't already written away: I will have to stop short, look down, look up, look close, think, think, think: but in what range should I think: should I figure colors and outlines, given forms, say mailboxes, or should I try to plumb what is behind what and what behind that, deep down where the surface has lost its semblance: or should I think personally, such as, this week seems to have been crafted in hell: what: is something going on: something besides this diddledeediddle everyday matter-of-fact: I could draw up an ancient memory which would wipe this whole presence away: or I could fill out my dreams with high syntheses turned into concrete visionary forms: Lucre could lust for Luster: bad angels could roar out of perdition and kill the AIDS vaccine not quite perfected yet: the gods could get down on each other; the big gods could fly in from nebulae unknown: but I'm only me: I have 4 interests--money, poetry, sex, death: I guess I can jostle those. . . .
Reprinted by permission from The Hudson Review, Vol. L, No. 3 (Autumn 1997). Copyright © 1997 by A. R. Ammons.
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
This poem is in the public domain.