|From and About Adam Chooses|
|"These spare, unexpected poems have the elegant design and the formal ease we've come to expect of Michael Spence's work." |
|"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."
ISLANDS 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. THE DARKEST SEASON —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; Absorb—Halloween 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. BIBLIOPHILE 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