Nº. 1 of  2

A Poet Reflects

Posts tagged Rhina P. Espaillat:

What’s to be done when every Yes
invites a No, entails a loss?
When saintliness incurs a cross
and certainties earn less and less?
The head works hard to sift the mess,
but since the rest is much less smart
it tends to tilt the apple cart
right back to Adam’s tiff with Eve:
she wants to know, he to believe.
And yet they cannot live apart.

Rhina P. Espaillat, closing stanza to “Impasse: Glose,” from Rehearsing Absence: Poems (University of Evansville Press, 2001)

You, What’s-your-name, who down the byways of my blood
are hurtling toward the future, tell if you’ve packed
the thousand flavors of the wind, the river’s voice,
the tongues of moss and fern singing the earth.

And where have you left the rain? Careful: don’t lose it,
nor the moan of the seagull in her blue desert,
nor those stars warm as caresses
you will not find again in your nights of steel.

Watch that you don’t run short of butterflies;
learn the colors of the hours;
and here, in this little case of bones
I’ve left you the perfume of the seas.

Rhina P. Espaillat, “For My Great-Great Grandson the Space Pioneer,” from Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)

Sundial deep in white
all day long reads exactly
half past January

Rhina P. Espaillat, ”Haiku,” from Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)

And in the heart, born single as a kiss,
Broods the sad other—learner, yearner, dier—
That knows, uncomforted, its one desire
Was not for this.

Rhina P. Espaillat, closing stanza to “Falling,” from Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)

Somebody’s blade fingers your chest,
out for the bird in its warm nest
rocked in those tides that come and go.
Somebody’s thumb is on the flow
memory rides through secret places
to find the doors, to name the faces.
Somebody’s picking body’s lock.
tapping the glass, hefting a rock,
leaping the gate, cutting the wire
that fuses motion to desire.
What if this once nobody’s there?
Somebody’s step is on the stair.

Rhina P. Espaillat, "How It Begins," from Where Horizons Go (Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1998)

Parrallax

I never write the words I meant to write.
Those come from where I’ve been, looking for me;
they are a door ajar, as if they might 
almost be true, and almost make me free.
But then the words that they set out to be
become those others that perhaps I meant
for naming what I wanted not to see,
as if some truth half giving its consent
turned, and the turning made it different
and led it elsewhere, somehow, by a hand
not the same hand that guided my intent.
I mean to write those words I understand
before they speak themselves, but then they close.
And what they would have said, god only knows.

—Rhina P. Espaillat, from Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)

Image, music, memory, mind’s reflection:
let these now, as then, in the freight of each day
seem enough to treasure without betraying
moment to meaning.

—Rhina P. Espaillat, from “Invocation” in Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998)

And in the heart, born single as a kiss,
Broods the sad other—learner, yearner, dier—
That knows, uncomforted, its one desire
Was not for this.

—Rhina P. Espaillat, closing stanza to “Falling” in Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey Press, 1998), winner of the 1998 T. S. Eliot Prize.

In Stone
Learn, as you read me, stranger,            How danger Surrounds every delight,            How night From which none can wake you            Will take you And memory forsake you, As you, just now, are turning From old inscriptions, learning How danger, how night, will take you.
—Rhina P. Espaillat, from Rehearsing Absence (The University of Evansville Press, 2001), Recipient of the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award

In Stone

Learn, as you read me, stranger,
            How danger
Surrounds every delight,
            How night
From which none can wake you
            Will take you
And memory forsake you,
As you, just now, are turning
From old inscriptions, learning
How danger, how night, will take you.

—Rhina P. Espaillat, from Rehearsing Absence (The University of Evansville Press, 2001), Recipient of the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award

I’ve been setting the table for the dead, rehearsing the absence of the living, seasoning age with names for the unborn. I’ve been putting a life together, like supper, like a poem. with what I have.
—Rhina P. Espaillat, excerpt from “Workshop” in Rehearsing Absence (The University of Evansville Press, 2001

I’ve been setting the table for the dead,
rehearsing the absence of the living,
seasoning age with names for the unborn.
I’ve been putting a life together, like
supper, like a poem. with what I have.

—Rhina P. Espaillat, excerpt from “Workshop” in Rehearsing Absence (The University of Evansville Press, 2001

Nº. 1 of  2