A cold wind, later, but no rain.
A bus breathing heavily at the station.
Beggars at the gate, and the moon
like one bright horn of a white
cow up there in space. But
really, must I think about all this
a second time in this short life?
This crescent moon, like a bit
of ancient punctuation. This
pause in the transience of all things.
Up there, Ishtar in the ship
of life he’s sailing. Has
he ripped open again his sack of grain?
Spilled it all over the place?
Bubbles rising to the surface, breaking.
Beside our sharpened blades, they’ve
set down our glasses of champagne.
A joke is made. But, really, must
I hear this joke again?
Must I watch the spluttering
light of this specific flame? Must I
consider forever the permanent
transience of all things:
The bus, breathing at the station.
The beggars at the gate.
The girl I was.
Both pregnant and chaste.
The cold wind, that crescent moon.
No rain. What difference
can it possibly make, that
pain, now that not a single
anguished cry of it remains?
Really, must I grieve it all again
a second time, and why tonight
of all the nights, and just
as I’m about to raise, with the
blissful others, my
glass to the silvery, liquid
chandelier above us?
Copyright © 2015 by Laura Kasischke. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“‘Champagne’ recounts not just a single incident in my life when what was supposed to be an ecstatic moment was intruded upon by a bad memory, but hundreds of such incidents. The self in the poem is struggling against the self’s insistence on that psychological habit.”
Laura Kasischke was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1987.
In 1991, she published her first collection of poetry, Wild Brides (New York University Press). She is also the author of Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award; The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Space, In Chains (Copper Canyon Press, 2011); Lillies Without (Copper Canyon Press, 2007); Gardening in the Dark (Ausable Press, 2004); Dance and Disappear (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); What It Wasn't (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002); Fire and Flower (Alice James Books, 1998); and Housekeeping In A Dream (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995).
She is the author of the short story collection If A Stranger Approaches You (Sarabande Books, 2013). She has also published ten novels, of which three have been made into feature films.
She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several Pushcart Prizes and numerous poetry awards. She teaches at the University of Michigan, and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.
Date Published: 2015-04-06
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/champagne