Poem of the Day via Poem.com Newsletter

What Sparks Poetry is a serialized feature that explores experiences and ideas that spark the writing of new poems. In The Poems of Others, invited poets pay homage to the poems that led them to write. Each Monday’s delivery brings you the poem and an excerpt from the essay.

Jorie Graham

I watched them once, at dusk, on television, run,in our motel room half-way throughNebraska, quick, glittering, past beauty, pastthe importance of beauty,archaic,not even hungry, not even endangered, driving deeper and deeperinto less. They leapt up falls, ladders,and rock, tearing and leaping, a gold river,and a blue river travelingin opposite directions.They would not stop, resolution of willand helplessness, as the eyeis helplesswhen the image forms itself, upside-down, backward,driving up intothe mind, and the worldunfastens itselffrom the deep ocean of the given. . . . Justice, aspenleaves, mother attemptingsuicide, the white night-flying moththe ants dismantled bit by bit and carried inright through the crackin my wall. . . . How helplessthe still pool is,upstream,awaiting the gold bladeof their hurry. Once, indoors, a child,I watched, at noon, through slatted wooden blinds,a man and woman, naked, eyes closed,climb onto each other,on the terrace floor,and ride—two gold currentswrapping round and round each other, fastening,unfastening. I hardly knewwhat I saw. Whatever shadow there was in that worldit was the one each castonto the other,the thin black seamthey seemed to be trying to work awaybetween them. I held my breath.As far as I could tell, the work they didwith sweat and lightwas good. I’d saythey traveled far in oppositedirections. What is the lightat the end of the day, deep, reddish-gold, bathing the walls,the corridors, light that is no longer light, no longer clarifies,illuminates, antique, freed from the body ofthe air that carries it. What is itfor the space of timewhere it is useless, merelybeautiful? When they were done, they made a distanceone from the otherand slept, outstretched,on the warm tileof the terrace floor,smiling, faces pressed against the stone.
from the book EROSION / Princeton University Press