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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Absences


(Winter Woodcut by Fritz Bleyl, 1880-1966,
German artist)

Sometimes all you need is the gentle sound of snow falling to trigger some fleeting memories.

ABSENCES

It’s snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano — outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus*, inclining,
Soon to let down its white or yellow-white.

Now, only these poor snow-flowers in a heap,
Like the memory of a white dress cast down . . .
So much has fallen.

And I, who have listened for a step
All afternoon, hear it now, but already falling away,
Already in memory. And the terrible scales descending
On the silent piano; the snow; and the absent flowers abounding.

~ Donald Justice (1925-2004), American poet

* cereus – a cactus, in this case, the lunar or night-blooming cereus, with its large blossom that appears once a year for one or two days before it falls off

2 comments:

kiki latimer said...

Pure elegance.

Michael M said...

i love your blog. as a fellow winnipeger the snow is etched deep in my psyche, both an environmental challenge, but also a source of great peace and beauty. As my mother is dying of pancreatic cancer, i look out my parents window at night and see the peaceful, exquisitely beautiful covering of pure, white snow, and somehow it makes my mother's immminent loss simultaneously more painful and peaceful. Thanks for an entire set of poems on the mysterious power of snow.
love michael M.
(say hi to john)