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Two Poems from Earth Absolute and Other Texts


S T E R I L E   E A R T H
                                                 earth inhospitable

one day, after so many years of not waiting
like a divine promulgation             a cloud
too heavy to pass breaks:  it’s the flood

                  I n  t h e  h u m i d  m u d

                                    as   some   billion   years   ago

                  i n  t h i s  f i r s t  g a r d e n

                                    protozoans leave their shells
                                    insects their cocoons and chrysalises
                                    seeds swell up until
                                    sleep breaks 

                  i n  a  c r a ck i n g  o f  c l a y

                                    the timid soul of a green shoot

                  s a l u t e s  t h e  l i g h t

                                    how the hills are encircled with joy
                                    and the flowers

                  w h a t   t e m e r i t y

                                    what self-confidence in life
                                    what scorn for all that isn’t
                                    the intimate flesh of movement

                  t e n d e r  s h e l l  o f  f i n i s h e d  l i g h t

                                    kissing the rigor of the earth 
he who hasn’t met you
                                    will he know to hear
                                    the clarity that sometimes vibrates
                                    between words --







H A M S I N     

transparent hell of Arabah  
we’ve been walking forever
in the vitreous flaming body of God          
columns of sand and sheaves of the wind
strides in the sphere of the poor
we’ve been walking forever
in a grainy wall of granite
in the whistling of the fire that rises
from the earth damasked in the pink of the lungs

we’ve been walking forever       

o n   t h e   d r e a m i n g   w a t e r s   o f   t h e   w o r l d      









Mary Ann Caws

Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her many areas of interest in 20th-century avant-garde literature and art include Surrealism, poets René Char and André Breton, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group, and artists Robert Motherwell, Joseph Cornell, and Pablo Picasso. Conceptually, one of her primary themes has been the relationship between image and text.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2015

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