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Anne Porter

Anne Porter was born on November 6, 1911. Her collections include Living Things: Collected Poems (Zoland Books, 2006), An Altogether Different Language: Poems 1934-1994 (Zoland Books, 1994) and The Birds of Passage (Groundwater Press, 1989). Porter died on October 10, 2011.

By This Poet

4

Winter Twilight

On a clear winter's evening
The crescent moon 

And the round squirrels' nest
In the bare oak 

Are equal planets.

A Short Testament

Whatever harm I may have done 
In all my life in all your wide creation creation
If I cannot repair it 
I beg you to repair it, 

And then there are all the wounded 
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed 
As if I were not one of them. 
Where I have wronged them by it 
And cannot make amends 
I ask you 
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near 
That I've destroyed in blind complicity, 
And if I cannot find them 
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over 
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death's bare branches.

Noel

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down 
And brought into our houses 

When clustered sparks 
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night 
In ordinary windows 

We hear and sing
The customary carols 

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles 
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common 

But there are carols
That carry phrases 
Of the haunting music
Of the other world 
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message 

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies 
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices 

They look at us
With their clear eyes 
And ask the piercing questions 
God alone can answer.