Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Two By James Wright

I just discovered that today is the birthday of poet James Wright. He was born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio, in 1927, and died in New York City in 1980. I was also reminded that Wright, round-faced and salt-and-pepper bearded, looked like one of my very favorite people in the world--a college professor of mine who introduced me to the second poem. So, two poems by Wright.

From a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower

Cribs loaded with roughage huddle together
Before the north clouds.
The wind tiptoes between poplars.
The silver maple leaves squint
Toward the ground.
An old farmer, his scarlet face
Apologetic with whiskey, swings back a barn door
And calls a hundred black-and-white Holsteins
From the clover field.

Lying in a Hammock At William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Also, while I'm here, a shout out to M. and A., two of my other favorite people in the world. They had birthdays yesterday. Sagittarians from Berkeley unite!