Four Poems

North Wind

Cannot say I as yet
but am beginning to get the idea
by putting the tip of my tongue
to the roof of my mouth.
Am exasperated when
do not succeed.
So much is missing
from the middle of the day!
Despite my best efforts
at individual enjoyment
know the north wind doth blow –
one day as yet
the roof will come off
and perishable below.

Apple in Water

I was swimming
with the taste of apple
in my mouth
a shred of appleskin
between my teeth I guess
It doesn’t get any better than this
said the water
These are troubled times
said the shred
and the apple, the apple
wasn’t really there,
only a lingering taste of it,
as if it were the last apple,
or an earlier one that had lasted,
either way it was silent
and I swam with the silence
in my mouth, listening to
the pretty crimson dot
and the great slipping glimpser,
not knowing if I heard
a night of love
or a love of night,
such was the knowledge gained
during that long languid swim.

A New Dawn

It became clearer and clearer.
Finally it was perfectly clear
and then it resembled Napoleon’s funeral,
the most purple and gold Paris
had ever seen, bees and lilies
embroidered on every available inch.
Purple is the color of talking about the past
and the future as if they were the same thing.
Gold is the color of mirth and shambles.
You loved and were loved
said the bee to the lily before buzzing off.
And the sun spoke:
I will drag you along
but the coffin you carry
must be empty.

The Leaves

Dearly beloved, we are gathered
here together today to look into
the face of the river.
One of us has stayed at home
to rake the leaves,
gathering those poor tears
shed for the rest of us.
If there is one among you
who sees in the face of the river
your own, please step forward
and identify the source of your
wealth. If not, can you give us
a thumbnail sketch
of the important philosophers
in Golden Greece?

An old cedar stood by,
simply thankful she existed.
And a young fox, who had
neither dreams nor feelings
in this French.
And the one at a distance
raking the leaves did not
think of them as tears,
but as simple toil, conducted
without compromise.
In the sweet fresh morning
how good it was to be alone
with potato parings filling
his mind. To whom should he speak?
There was no one but the leaves
and the leaves did not feel
he had anything worth saying.

Mary Ruefle is the author of My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016), Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has published ten books of poetry, a book of prose (The Most of It, 2008), and a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed!, (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007); she is also an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and published in A Little White Shadow (2006). She lives in Bennington, Vermont.


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