Like I trusted the world which wasn’t mine

A few different short pieces from the mystically spare Fanny Howe (1940-) to begin the wrap-up of National Poetry Month.

I’d speak if I wasn’t afraid of inhaling
A memory I want to forget
Like I trusted the world which wasn’t mine
The hollyhock in the tall vase is wide awake
And feelings are only overcome by fleeing
To their opposite. Moisture and dirt
Have entered the space between threshold and floor
A lot is my estimate when I step on it
Sorry can be a home to stand on so
And see far to: another earth, a place I might know

~

Come, tinkers, among droves of acorn trees
Be only one third needful, O
Name the things whereby we hope
Before the story scatters. A cardinal is red for fever where you passed
The suffering world’s faith
Is a scandal. Tests of facts
Bring dread to aptitude
You who loved the people and the world
Tell us our failings and if we’re home

~

I won’t be able to write from the grave
so let me tell you what I love:
oil, vinegar, salt, lettuce, brown bread, butter,
cheese and wine, a windy day, a fireplace,
the children nearby, poems and songs,
a friend sleeping in my bed–

and the short northern lights.

How can you be where you never were?

An anthology of Fanny Howe (1940-) selected poems has been quietly haunting me for months. Here is just one of the many gems.

You travel a path on paper
and discover you’re in a city
you only thought about before.

It’s a Sunday marketplace. Parakeets and finches
are placed on the stones
and poppies in transparent wrapping.

How can you be where you never were?
And how can you find the way–with your mind
your only measure?