Passage III

By Maureen N. McLane Maureen N. McLane
cold birds
still sing

a bright sun
chill air

snow entombing
precocious crocuses

tricked
by a spring

now
falsened

                                     ❏

cherry trees ...
Good Friday ...
—treatise: on the use of trees

                                     ❏

a flyblown carcass
in the underbrush below
the cypress in the cemetery
: the dead above
: the dead below

                                     ❏

like a Fantin-Latour
the clutch of flowers
in your hand
and apple frothing the air

                                     ❏

the life you're not leading
the blood you're not bleeding
the knot you're not kneading
the mouth you're not feeding
the earth you're not seeding

                                     ❏
 
they're grooming the lawns
               for the graduates
                               and the proud parents
and meanwhile the yellowthroat sings
               unconcerned—
cherries just gone by their faded blossoms
                             thick against the
                             insurgent leaves
               offer the very figure
                              of spring melancholy
               o I missed
when they were fully in bloom
               & the season
               & the time for the
                              perfect spring
                              haiku
               to hail another winter
                              survived


where among the redbud blooms exploding
              along the thin branches
                             is my death written

                                      ❏

earth conspiring
against me
have a child
to load
the earth
with vines
with lives
with signs songs & cries

                                      ❏

insistent crow
cardinal whoop
peepers booming open the night
              stabbing life into your heart
              the odious air
              reverberant

                                       ❏

that was no song
but an alarm call

                                       ❏

the rhythmic thunk of the basketball
                thwacking the tarmac
                at the little park a
                               block over
                . . . boys . . . calls . . .
and the rain holding off—
               a May nor'easter
deferring the fullest spring
               we might have had but leaving
                              the lilacs to extend
                              their delicate
                                               thrusting
                                into the air
                 the boys birds and blossoms share

                                       ❏

say that a heron perched
               immobile
               until
               alert the head
               turns

                                       ❏

the weather is far more violent
here and present
or so it seems days
one's attention is open
to the cloudthrottled air
lit by a near-equinoctial
sun—the nights
too extend to a farther
horizon the stars legible
in this particular sky
to those able and wishing
to scry, too many years
looking inward thinning
                 the lexicon of the visible
                 world its oracular
                 reality sounding
                 itself all along

                 these maples
                 that stone
                 that garden fountain
                 the mists rolling in
                 over the mountains
                 disguising the sky
                 the world
                 gone slate
                 its greens drained
                 as that fountain
                 before the first frost
                 the rain is passing
                 and the lilacs
                 the thunder
                 the day but what
                 have you held
                 beheld beset
                 as you are
                 by yourself

                                       ❏

                signing
                my best
                beset
                instead
                reveals
                itself the key
                an extra e
                lone vowel
                tiny howl
                I did not do
                what my hands did

                                      ❏

                 wavelap and lakeslap lick
                                the ear; the air carries
                                               stripes in the
                                low precincts of sky—
                 a mower blares somewhere
                                 above A and
                                               shuts off a
                                 shock of
                                               silence
                  into which the wave-
                                 slaps surge

                                      ❏

to enter the water
in Mayan
to die

                                      ❏

over there the gray
                gathering
                               sheath meant
                                               rain
but our private sun
               continues to sign-
post a clear day at least
               for us.
an earthquake
               in China
                              means
               precisely what
                              to me
               wondered Adam Smith—
the world disappearing
               the instant my tooth aches: Sartre

my skin some days
                              extends
              as wide as the sea
and the waves of the world
               roll through, equable
                              terrible
but I am living this narrow
               life and no other
               except yours I imagine
                              some days we're graced
                                              or grazed by a shared bullet

                                     ❏

today no thrush silvered the air
                in the woods
the wind blowing hard
                against the bike
passing a stretch of field
                where tractors for miles around
                               come to die
the iron congregation rusting
               faithful as the grass,
the cows at Saywards Farm seemed
                too confined
why aren't they grazing in the field and why
                are their calves
                               wired in—
late last night
                after the sunset
                I did not see
the lake took on that babyish blue
                I so love and I saw
a sole balloon aloft lifting over Vergennes
                puffing by Camel's Hump
and heading east—
                we have harnessed the air
                               for our pleasure
                               our leisure a rhyme
                with the weather
                               clearing as if the
                               skies cared
                               or could

                                     ❏

radios and weathervanes
conduct the air
disperse manes

                                     ❏

mountains deforested
                by distance
Hokusai shapes cut
                against the
                sky the clouds
                              address just
                              so
and through the same air
                              the radio pours
                its usual brew of cheer & death
                what wonder little schizo
                              you reel so
                in the fractured world
the sky bends to my way
                and to yours and to home
                sweet home

                                     ❏

my soul marching through
the open fifths of its salvation
shapenotes shaping
me home

                                     ❏

not the sun but the sun
                in the river
not the moon
                but the lake-swallowed moon
the stars cracking open the black paved road
                where immortals strode



Maureen McLane, "Passage III" from World Enough. Copyright © 2010 by Maureen McLane. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

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Source: World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)

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Poet Maureen N. McLane

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, The Body, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Maureen  N. McLane

Biography

Maureen N. McLane grew up in upstate New York and was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Chicago. She is the author of World Enough (2010), and Same Life: poems (2008); and This Blue (2014); as well as the poetry chapbook, This Carrying Life (2006). She has also published two books of literary criticism, Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (2008) and Romanticism and the Human . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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