Daniel Tobin

IX. Ophelia’s Garden | III. Tears
March 8, 2015 Tobin Daniel

IX. Ophelia’s Garden


After the turtle shook the world from its shell,
It homed through all the waters without bounds,
Through quale and quanta, ever ascending
Until it broke the surface on the single pool
Where the dead girl floated who dove in there
And swallowed her fill until she was the pool
She willed herself in her swelled grief to be,
And so began the change, her skin turning scales,
Her breasts lifting lilies, the fronds in surround
Inclining like mourners, while the turtle
Paddled, swimming to her palm, dandled, open,
Flowering there in the sky blue of Krishna.



III. Tears


Salt-heaves out of the inner ocean flow
From the threshold eye: self’s backwaters
Laboriously fermenting, while the legs
Of the ballerina twist around themselves
Like snakes around a tree. O snifter, flask,
My little drip-bag of tears, the extract,
The elixir, the equinoctial champagne
That keeps me primed and wired for the jump!
I balance on my head a punchbowl of heads—
My many faces, the brave losses bobbing,
And these bottomless flutes like waterspouts.
Lift a glass. Cin-cin. Watch the boats go sailing.

Daniel Tobin is the author of nine books of poems, including From Nothing, winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award,The Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the German of Paul Celan, and most recently Blood Labors,named one of the Ten Best Books of 2018 by the New York Times. He is also the author of the critical studies Awake in AmericaPassage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, and On Serious Earth, forthcoming in 2019. Tobin has edited The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola RidgePoet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art (with Pimone Triplettand To The Many: Collected Early Works of Lola Ridge, which received a Special Commendation from the Poetry Society. His poetry has won the “The Discovery/The Nation Award,” The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Stephen J. Meringoff Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.