Three Yaddo Poets Trust in the Everlasting

May 22, 2020

A moment of stillness, a zing of recognition, a window opened on the soul— these are among the rewards of poetry, each of them sorely needed right now. Join us here for an occasional Yaddo series, curated by Soren Stockman.

Cynthia Cruz Photo: Cynthia Cruz

“Midnight Office” by Cynthia Cruz

Source: Poetry (October 2015)

“The child is not dead,” Cruz begins, as if to say, “you are not guilty.” We clutch more tightly to our angels when they work overtime, like a parent returning home briefly before bed and the next morning’s early work. Those who identify as protectors, their “circle(s) of fire / Maddening around the tree,” surround an intractable loss, and search for a way to “put the word / back into her: / A heavy kind of music.” We stand on the land left to us, and faith rises like roots into our feet. The child free, our prayer builds us deeper into the earth until, becoming another tree in a vast forest, we are surrounded by angels. — SS

Malachi Black Photo: The Amy Clampitt Residency

“Land’s End” by Malachi Black

Source: Horsethief (Issue 7)

Bewildered anew at each first sight of an unknowable world, mornings are a twofold exercise. We blink first into a forgotten landscape before remembering again the bleak outline of the coming day. Black wonders whether we could stretch that window a bit wider. Though “where your warmth was, all / was winter’s paw,” and despite there being “no safety in the world outside / this quilt,” Black’s speaker declares, “Lie here.” If the world has shrunken to a pillow, then to a single “bare thread,” tender are the braids we weave in each other’s hair. Our shriveled lives may fit in the palms of our hands, yet they do thankfully coincide, each of our “fingers cast(ing) an ancient net / into a brightness they can’t hold.” — SS

John Ashbery Photo: Peter Hujar

“How to Continue” by John Ashbery

John Ashbery, “How to Continue” from Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems. Copyright © 2007 by John Ashbery. Reprinted with the permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc. on behalf of the author. Source: Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (The Ecco Press, 2007)

The rhythms we once took for granted carry a jingle in the mind’s constantly replayed commercials for them — a perfect, simple rhyme: “And it was always a party there / always different but very nice / New friends to give you advice / or fall in love with you which is nice.” When the boat of tourists leaves like a dream from sleep, and the “little paths” we’ve worn down are “so startled” by a gale of absence, the past takes on a stubborn life of its own. The trails we’ve taken, unencumbered by the present, may refuse to exit their preferred circumstances, and who could blame them? They took us to the love we look back on now. We continue because we trust the path. — SS