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Poems and Links

All Unknowns are Equal

 

I remember very young, when my head

was still soft like a mushroom,

 

waking alone in the banded light

to a consciousness like moss.

 

How large that yellow-green world

with its shadow prints on the window,

 

but also the marshland that was I.

Some scale measured the two equal,

 

and since I could wander only a few steps

in either direction, I had no fear just yet.

 

This seems now like the vestigial memory

of some other, ancestral being,

 

though I still feel the blue satin quilt

pulled to my chin and watch myself

 

unfolding fingers from a hand

at the far reach of my arm

 

with a patience I’ll never recover

or comprehend—

 

the patience of a low place in the land

waiting to become a sea

 

or maybe an inlet, since the self is rinsed

each day in the world, then returned

 

to a nap, or to wake from a nap.

Mother used to say

 

I’d lie quietly in my crib for a while.

 

 

appeared originally in Stringtown 13

 

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Poems Online

Poetics

Following are brief reviews of four poets’ collected letters. For anyone who can’t quite penetrate the eccentricity of Marianne Moore’s poetry, or who misses the deep feeling beneath Elizabeth Bishop’s famous control, I recommend their incomparable letters. Wallace Stevens explains “The Emperor of Ice Cream” and other mysteries, though the mystery of his inner life remains mostly intact. And the correspondence of WC Williams and Louis Zukofsky documents the modernist and avant-garde poetry movements and a warm and supportive friendship.

Other reviews in Umbrella Magazine