Poem from Hölderlin
As from dark orchard leaves, from quiet scripts where each shape sends its tendril reaching— circle and line, the swaddled bud, the petiole sprung, an envelope tendered. By a window, the infant turns, rooting toward the breast, sun-lit, the mother humming. (Those far things, sources of power and regret, cliffs and waves, continue at a distance.) Here you’ll find a name scrawled in the bark— last words, left to chance and strangers. There, the black ant, burdened by a crumb, and the weight of her lacquered armor, crossing—climbing, switching, doubling back—gnarl and crevice and cul de sac. Pinch-waisted, driven on, and trembling, does she have a notion of her own, or is it only species memory—so fearless, so abstract? because it is winter everywhere, I spin my cocoon I dig my heart a grave Indifferent, a blossom drifting, the knob swelling, the leaf turned to shadow: filigree, smudged. The petiole now brittle in the first cold nights. The burden, relieved, weighs all the more from the guilt of its release. Too light, too light, like a sudden waking, the sun in your eyes: you cannot see for it. How long will we live in this leaf-strewn place, thinking we belong to the sky?
Copyright © 2017 by Susan Stewart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
Susan Stewart was born in 1952. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Cinder: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2017).
Date Published: 2017-12-22
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poem-holderlin