Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poem: "What Are Years Indeed"

What Are Years Indeed

     in its surrendering
     finds its continuing
—Marianne Moore, “What Are Years”


     Seventeen cherry trees
on fire, a man’s red hair,
     but they are not men and these
are springtime leaves and flowers, not flames,
indifferent to guilt,
insensible to innocence, going
softly when their time is up.
     What is mortality?
     What is eternity?

     More representative
the cherry branches in
     a glass vase, cut but alive,
their slashed stems sipping water, their tight
royal velvet buds—
so many—unfolded in a pink faint,
clawing the air for air, more
     rage-rousing, by far
     more courageous, are,

     as is their true support,
not roots, but a table
     made from cherry wood and fought
for, with blind patience and wordless skill,
a pedestal trophy.
So present that it approaches pure good,
it is hard to imagine
     in its cunning chamber
     chafes a tree in amber.

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