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In Blackwater Woods

by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Sonnet of the Garland of Roses

Federico Garcia Lorca
A garland, quick, a wreath: I come and die.
Braid flowers as they fade. Sing, cry, and sing!
Heart in my throat, a storm swelling a gorge
shadowed and silvered by a thousand falls.
Between your own desire and my desire
the space is starry, each step quakes the ground,
and forests of anemones will spring
to round the year, making their secret sound.
Lovers in my wound's landscape, overjoyed,
can watch the reeds bend in the crossing currents,
can drink from red pools in the honeyed thigh.
But hurry, let's entwine ourselves as one,
our mouth broken, our soul bitten by love,
so time discovers us safely destroyed.

Beneath my hands

Leonard Cohen

Beneath my hands
your small breasts
are the upturned bellies
of breathing fallen sparrows.

Wherever you move
I hear the sounds of closing wings
of falling wings.

I am speechless
because you have fallen beside me
because your eyelashes
are the spines of tiny fragile animals.

I dread the time
when your mouth
begins to call me hunter.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want to summon
the eyes and hidden mouths
of stone and light and water
to testify against you.

I want them
to surrender before you
the trembling rhyme of your face
from their deep caskets.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want my body and my hands
to be pools
for your looking and laughing.

From Selected Poems, 1956-1968 by Leonard Cohen, 1971

‘Unclothed, you are true, like one of your hands’

XXVII From: ‘Cien sonetos de amor’  - Pablo Neruda

Unclothed, you are true, like one of your hands,
lissome, terrestrial, slight, complete, translucent,
with curves of moon, and paths of apple-wood:

Unclothed you are as slender as a nude ear of corn.
Undressed you are blue as Cuban nights,
with tendrils and stars in your hair,
undressed you are wide and amber,
like summer in its chapel of gold.

Naked you are tiny as one of your fingertips,
shaped, subtle, reddening till light is born,
and you leave for the subterranean worlds,
as if down a deep tunnel of clothes and chores:
your brightness quells itself, quenches itself, strips itself down
turning, again, to being a naked hand.


Desnuda eres tan simple como una de tus manos, 
Lisa, terrestre, mínima, redonda, transparente, 
Tienes líneas de luna, caminos de manzana, 
Desnuda eres delgada como el trigo desnudo.

Desnuda eres azul como la noche en Cuba, 
Tienes enredaderas y estrellas en el pelo, 
Desnuda eres enorme y amarilla 
Como el verano en una iglesia de oro.

Desnuda eres pequeña como una de tus uñas,
Curva, sutil, rosada hasta que nace el día 
Y te metes en el subterráneo del mundo
Como en un largo túnel de trajes y trabajos:
Tu claridad se apaga, se viste, se deshoja 
Y otra vez vuelve a ser una mano desnuda.

Ode to the Moon

by Tabish Khair

A stab of Moon
between two trees

fireflies impersonating

tangled in the branches of the night

on the road to the riverside
where did aloneness end
and loneliness begin


On her cheek and mine
although our minds so differ,
like utter strangers,
the pine winds blow equally--
almost as though we were friends

Yosano Akiko 1878-1942

The World and I

by Laura Riding 

This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun.
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die—
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each—exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.