L.A. Weeks – Four Poems
Child’s Bible in a Junk Shop
To Rayford from Sister with love and best wishes
One in a black leather stack,
palm-sized and embossed,
its binding still intact:
Five dollars, fifty cents.
Whose cutting garden is this,
petals dust between its pages?
Whose penciled script,
tracing down the ages –
like mitochondrial DNA –
to Eve’s primordial continent
that split apart to float away?
We’ve been sifting ever since
for Edens lost to flood and moth,
and children’s names that we forgot.
To the west, your billows ease up from murmur
to rumble, brooding through the afternoon.
Why keep secrets from this garden rather than
advance with nape-prickling speed
like a phalanx, hurling trash cans down the street?
Already, you could clasp the world
in flash and torrent, split a minute from before
and after (fix in it, mid-task birds and bees).
Why hold close electric mysteries,
how ions tap attar from petals, singed musk
from asphalt? If you’re the vapor of earth itself,
kick over sundials – mock all order.
Then, leave a swooping wake of martins,
a wink of heat lightning to the east.
the swollen river
heaves a sigh of crane flies
to clouds of waxwings
swirling from tree to tree
golden flecks against the dusk
tight in bud
camellias blush through ice
a drop sounds
like a promise when it falls
in the widow’s garden
Author’s Statement on Beauty
As a bookseller, I enjoy watching readers overturn myths about poetry, beginning with the misconception that poetry somehow belongs to a select few. It belongs to everyman, and everyman’s buying poetry that, through beauty, connects our inner worlds. Readers are scooping up Sappho’s fragments, feeling a pang in the solar plexus put there by beauty which leaps centuries to reach them. And they’re buying the work of contemporary poets which promises to do the same to someone else a hundred years hence. As a writer, I keep Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica” on my desk; I aspire to strike true with something beautiful, a poem that does not mean, but is.