Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Poems

Two Countries
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

by Pablo Neruda
Translated by Clayton Eshleman

There is something dense, united, settled in the depths,
repeating its number, its identical sign.
How it is noted that stones have touched time,
in their refined matter there is an odor of age,
of water brought by the sea, from salt and sleep.

I'm encircled by a single thing, a single movement:
a mineral weight, a honeyed light
cling to the sound of the word "noche":
the tint of wheat, of ivory, of tears,
things of leather, of wood, of wool,
archaic, faded, uniform,
collect around me like walls.

I work quietly, wheeling over myself,
a crow over death, a crow in mourning.
I mediate, isolated in the spread of seasons,
centric, encircled by a silent geometry:
a partial temperature drifts down from the sky,
a distant empire of confused unities
reunites encircling me.


A New Beginning said...

beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

murat11 said...

Two very beautiful poems, two peas in a pod, and lovely mirrorings of the grace of the days of silly things.

jsd said...

A New Beginning: I'm glad you liked the poems.

murat: I'm glad you liked them as well. I was having a hard time articulating for my Oct. greeter reflection. So, I went hunting for poetry to share with them. The poems that day spoke for me of such humanness and the power of relationships.

San said...

Two very sensual poems that celebrate connections--between lovers, between a person and all that is.

Poems to linger over, like that crow wheeling above. Poems to travel between, to "go places larger than (our)selves."

jsd said...

san: the poems are magical; they keep beckoning you back.

Lee said...

Lovely poems, JS. I particularly like the Naomi one. That line "love means you breath in two countries" gave me pause for thought. Is there a poem of hers that it ties to? The whole concept of skin was good. Today, after reading San's post about the two plays, it seems to echo the idea of an inner and outer voice. As a recorded map of the journey of our lives the idea of skin is a good visual. Have you guys been holding poetry days again?

Good to see you on my follwer list. :-)