Friday, December 14, 2012

on an uncanny plane

I like poems written within a certain context. Poems emerging from a peculiar shape of consciousness. That context and shape will have this refined quality: historical mood blended into aesthetic imperative. In the quiet background of such poems will be surreal catastrophe and migration, as well as the music of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler. Those poems will be subtly haunted by the millennial dead and displaced, as well as by the graceful cadences of ballet, the obsessive auras of paintings, and the tragic contours of sculpture.

Regardless of theme, such a poem will speak and flow on an uncanny plane. 


Commonplace miracle: 
that so many commonplace miracles happen. 

An ordinary miracle: 
in the dead of night 
the barking of invisible dogs. 

One miracle out of many: 
a small, airy cloud 
yet it can block a large and heavy moon. 

Several miracles in one: 
an alder tree reflected in the water, 
and that it's backwards left to right 
and that it grows there, crown down 
and never reaches the bottom, 
even though the water is shallow. 

An everyday miracle: 
winds weak to moderate 
turning gusty in storms. 

First among equal miracles: 
cows are cows. 

Second to none: 
just this orchard 
from just that seed. 

A miracle without a cape and top hat: 
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it: 
today the sun rose at three-fourteen 
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be: 
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers, 
it still has more than four. 

A miracle, just take a look around: 
the world is everywhere. 

An additional miracle, as everything is additional: 
the unthinkable 
is thinkable. 

Wislawa Szymborska
(translated by Joanna Trzeciak)

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