Five Landscapes

By Cole Swensen b. 1955 Cole Swensen
One    
 
Green moves through the tops of trees and grows
lighter greens as it recedes, each of which includes a grey, and among the
greys, or beyond them, waning finely into white, there is one white spot,
absolute; it could be an egret or perhaps a crane at the edge of the water
where it meets a strip of sand.



Two    
 
There is a single, almost dazzling white spot of a white house out loud
against the fields, and the forest in lines
receding, rises,
and then planes. Color,
 
in pieces or entire; its presence
veneers over want; in all its moving parts, it could be something else
 
half-hidden by trees. Conservatory, gloriette, gazebo, or bandshell,
a door ajar on the top floor.



Three    
The trees are half air. They fissure the sky; you could count the leaves, pare
time
                              defined as that which,
                              no matter how barely, exceeds
                              what the eye could grasp in a glance;
intricate woods opening out before a body of water edged
with a swatch of meadow where someone has hung a bright white sheet
out in the sun to dry.
 
    
 
Four    
 
A white bird in a green forest is a danger to itself. Stands out. Shines. Builds
up inside. Like it’s dangerous to cry while driving or to talk to strangers or to
stare at the sun and a thousand other things
                                                                                   we’ve always heard
people who wear white see better at night, though they gradually lose this
trait as they age.
 
 

Five    
 
The air across the valley is slightly hazy though thinning though patches
remain between the groves of trees that edge a clearing in which stands a
single house. A child in a white t-shirt has just walked out of the house and
is turning to walk down to the lake.

Cole Swensen, “Five Landscapes” from Goest. Copyright © 2004 by Cole Swensen. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.

Source: Goest (Alice James Books, 2004)

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Poet Cole Swensen b. 1955

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet Cole Swensen was born and raised near San Francisco, and has since lived in Santa Cruz, California, London, England, Paris, France, and Denver, Colorado, working as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher. She began teaching at an alternative high school while in her early twenties and has since taught in community colleges and universities. She began teaching full-time at the University of Denver in 1996 and is the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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