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Randall Jarrell

(May 6, 1914 – October 14, 1965 / Nashville)

The Elementary Scene


Looking back in my mind I can see
The white sun like a tin plate
Over the wooden turning of the weeds;
The street jerking --a wet swing--
To end by the wall the children sang.

The thin grass by the girls' door,
Trodden on, straggling, yellow and rotten,
And the gaunt field with its one tied cow--
The dead land waking sadly to my life--
Stir, and curl deeper in the eyes of time.

The rotting pumpkin under the stairs
Bundled with switches and the cold ashes
Still holds for me, in its unwavering eyes,
The stinking shapes of cranes and witches,
Their path slanting down the pumpkin's sky.

Its stars beckon through the frost like cottages
(Homes of the Bear, the Hunter--of that absent star,
The dark where the flushed child struggles into sleep)
Till, leaning a lifetime to the comforter,
I float above the small limbs like their dream:

I, I, the future that mends everything.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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