It's so quiet now the children have decided to stop
being born. We raise our cups in an empty room.
In this light, the curtains are transparent as gauze.
Through the open window we hear nothing—
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city's traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.
The brick school at the five points crosswalk
is drenched in morning glory.
Its white flowers are trumpets
festooning this coastal town.
Will the eventual forest rise up
and remember our footsteps? Already
seedlings erupt through cement,
crabgrass heaves through cracked marble,
already wolves come down from the hills
to forage among us. We are like them now,
just another species looking to the stars
and howling extinction.
They say the body accepts any kind of sorrow,
that our ancestors lay down on their stomachs
in school hallways, as children they lay down
like matches waiting for a nuclear fire.
It wasn't supposed to end like this:
all ruin and beauty, vines waterfalling down
a century's architecture; it wasn't supposed to end
so quietly, without fanfare or fuss,
a man and woman collecting rain
in old coffee tins. Darling,
the wars have been forgotten.
These days our quarrels are only with ourselves.
Tonight you sit on the edge of the bed loosening your shoes.
The act is soundless, without future
weight. Should we name this failure?
Should we wake to the regret at the end of time
doing what people have always done
and say it was not enough?
From Ruin and Beauty by Patricia Young. Copyright © 2000 by Patricia Young. Reprinted by permission of House of Anansi Press. All rights reserved.
The translucent claws of newborn mice
this pearl cast of color,
the barely perceptible
like a ghosted threshold of being:
here not here.
The single breath we hold
on the thinnest verge of sight:
not there there.
A curve nearly naked
an arc of almost,
a wisp of becoming
tiny enough to change me.
Copyright © 2020 by Kimberly Blaeser. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions,
Or neglected, gone astray?
Matters not how great in fancy,
Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;
Man, though high may be his station,
Is no better than his thoughts.
Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,
Let each one an honor be;
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,
Then in love set each one free.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Now shall I store my soul with silent beauty,
Beauty of drifting clouds and mountain heights,
Beauty of sun-splashed hills and shadowed forests,
Beauty of dawn and dusk and star-swept nights.
Now shall I fill my heart with quiet music,
Song of the wind across the pine-clad hill,
Song of the rain and, fairer than all music,
Call of the thrush when twilight woods are still.
So shall the days to come be filled with beauty,
Bright with the promise caught from eastern skies;
So shall I see the stars when night is darkest,
Still hear the thrush’s song when music dies.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.