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Woods that Won’t, by Pamela Alexander

April 23, 2009 by Reader's Connection

Slow Fire

This poem appears in Alexander’s collection Slow Fire.

The book was published by Ausable Press, and is now carried by Copper Canyon Press ( Copper Canyon has granted permission to reprint.

To those who feel that this is a winter poem, and that the library should only be featuring spring poems at this time, I say: Another person’s difficulties while seeking inspiration can be so inspiring. What could be springier?





Woods that Won’t

My house is depressed. It ate
too much, cupboards stuffed.
To set a good example I take
a walk, find tracks, imagine
the skinny legs of a deer.

I wear loud boots and clothing
made of words. My wisdom’s
small; I tuck it in a pocket. It grows
heavier with every step.

The crow flies in the middle
of itself. The crow is moving and still,
like a river that flows and holds
the color of sky and reeds.

No deer shows itself, nor
the bush on fire that is the fox,
nor the dull-eyed porcupine.
Peering at tracks, I see
even my present is past.

Only a dropped hat crouches
in the path. The hat says
Go home, furless one.

In the cold woods I say Quick! Be!
and am unchanged. I say See
and Now. They are the same word.
I remain mind on a stem, talk-talky.

The woods are closed. Will I go back
to the house, servant of my comfort,
and serve it? Acquire, arrange,
decorate? Oh my house will
be pleased. It will have me
in for dinner, will lower its shades
and prop a sprig of smoke
over its chimney pot.

I gather my wits in a heap
on the ground. They are
few. Under them I light a match.


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