With My Senses in Ruins
Here’s a recipe for seeing: sleep
and feeling as a long-expected season feels
the day the sky entrusts its new campaign
of sails and sheets. Where in time do figures,
half-imagined, blend themselves with lawns
as standards blend with all exceptions?
Always the same, or same-ish, bank of low
suggestive clouds, the freshness of the air
in theory. Charcoal smudges under trees
across a reach of dried-up swamp relate
to passions forcefully declared then left
to fade, like fragrances. What’s wanted: light,
in which the ends throw shadows and the means
retreat, uncovering a floodplain where
memorials, deployed at intervals, describe
a pattern unaccounted for among the
new curations. Where in time
does darkness, not sustainable, give way
to brightnesses the ur-ironic must abjure?
In the rough impasto of the leaves
a gunship hoists its signal. The rundown trees
throw lattices across the stream.
Scavenge and Transform
No thanks, I think I’ll lie here for a while,
the long low scumbled pasture, greener than
a poisoned lawn, ascending to a blue
so self-contained it doesn’t owe me
an apology. Maybe I should figure out
my next obscure obsession, but I’m fine
right here, for now; the needled earth is soft
and faintly fragrant of decay. Someone’s built
a little fence. That’s nice. See how the woods
extend into a shadow out of which
I half expect my old companion
to appear, the nightjar formerly embedded
in my chest, whose song recalls me
to a moonlit gate, a scene in retrospect
derivative of Keats but with its own
peculiar overtones of cardamom and—
is it bleach? The gate, though never opened,
gives into the ruined foreporch
of an opulent estate. I recognize
its blind façade, its windows black
as switched-off cellphones, and its low
seawall angling out along the headland road.
All night penumbral ships tie up, and hands
unload their cargoes down a ramp to cellars
underneath the north parterre. At length
the empty vessels slip across the blank
reflecting surface of the harbor, bound
for coastlines where the ice has eaten coves
into the soft volcanic substrate of the hills.
No thanks. I think I’ll lie here for a while.
One path goes west along the little fence,
the other south a ways until the dark
enclosures of the oaks obscure its line.
Jonathan Weinert is the author of In the Mode of Disappearance (Nightboat 2008), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize. He is co-editor, with Kevin Prufer, of Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W. S. Merwin (WordFarm, 2012), a collection of essays, interviews, and exchanges on W. S. Merwin’s poetry since 1988, which has been named a finalist for a 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award.