From and About Adam Chooses
Adam Chooses by Michael Spence "These spare, unexpected poems have the elegant design and the formal ease we've come to expect of Michael Spence's work."
Madeline DeFrees
"In Adam Chooses, Michael Spence's poems, often cunning experiments in traditional form, dramatize the way experience leads to knowledge…. We should be grateful for them."
Mark Jarman


Dear Sharon,
	More than oceans separate
The lives our fathers left behind—islands
Fixed on opposite curves of the planet.

Gaelic in my ears tangles sound,
And Japanese kanji to your eyes
Seem hieroglyphics. On this middle ground,

This country formed halfway between the loss
Of both those older worlds, what words we share
Divide us from our blood. Now we pass

Beyond origins into a future
Growing like phases of the moon, from black
To light. The tides rise as if pulling water

Away to show us what we know: when we look
Deeply enough, all islands join on bedrock.


			     —for Sharon

What kind of god would bring
Each year a darkness
That deadens waterflow?
I choose to work with light, then,
Or its absence, can see
Light best through solid bodies
It reaches. Christians learned:
To overcome, don't resist;
Into All Saints' Day,
Fir trees into Christmas.
I know we try to draw
Warmth from deepest cold.
And you know our shadows
Will fall: we must stand
In whatever light that comes.
More to me than hymns
Are the lips and voices
Singing; more than cathedrals
The hands carving stone.


As he turns it, the page
Whispers to him, edge
Lightly scraping his finger.
The scent of glue that lingers
In the binding, the heft
And thickness when he lifts
A book! But he loves the words
Even more, and the third
Dimension stretching the plane
Of the page. His body remains
In a simple, narrow chair,
While his mind soars
From the skin which—dawn to dusk—
Grips him in its husk.

With years, he yearns to grow
A real collection. Rows
Of shelves like ladders climb
His walls, raising him
To secret attics, to lives
That he could never have.
The leaves of the books create
A forest small and private—
Surrounded, he becomes
The wind that flutters them.
He reads so slowly, his eyes
Water, sting as he tries
To absorb all he wants
By reading every moment.

But one done, he buys another
Ten, as time still slices years
To destiny. He turns,
Turns pages, hopes that whispers
Shroud the other wind—the coming
Of night on scissor wings.

Copyright © 1998 by Michael Spence

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