I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
It shines in the garden,
in the white foliage of the chestnut tree,
in the brim of my father's hat
as he walks on the gravel.
A rough sound was polished until it became
a smoother sound, which was polished until
it became music.
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The relatives are leaning over, staring expectantly.
They moisten their lips with their tongues. I can feel
them urging me on. I hold the baby in the air.
Heaps of broken bottles glitter in the sun.
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
When you see them
tell them I am still here,
that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
that this is the only way,
What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched in the bushes,
Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender,
Signs that the irregular pleasures of moving
Someone was saying
something about shadows covering the field, about
how things pass, how one sleeps towards morning
and the morning goes.
The huge doll of my body
refuses to rise.
I am the toy of women.
When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.
You sit in a chair, touched by nothing, feeling
the old self become the older self, imagining
only the patience of water, the boredom of stone.
You think that silence is the extra page,
The gifted have told us for years that they want to be loved
For what they are, that they, in whatever fullness is theirs,
Are perishable in twilight, just like us. So they work all night
For us, too, there was a wish to possess
Something beyond the world we knew, beyond ourselves,
Beyond our power to imagine, something nevertheless
In which we might see ourselves; and this desire
Tonight I walked,
lost in my own meditation,
and was afraid,
not of the labyrinth
Mark Strand (born 11 April 1934) is a Canadian-born American poet, essayist, and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990. Since 2005–06, he has been a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Strand was born on Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada. His early years were spent in North America, while much of his teenage years were spent in South and Central America. In 1957, he earned his B.A. from Antioch College in Ohio. Strand then studied painting under Josef Albers at Yale University where he earned a B.F.A in 1959. On a Fulbright Scholarship, Strand studied nineteenth-century Italian poetry in Italy during 1960–1961. He attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa the following year and earned a Master of Arts in 1962. In 1965 he spent a year in Brazil as a Fulbright Lecturer. Photo Credit: © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, All rights reserved.)
Keeping Things Whole
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
Nobody knows you. You are the neighbor of nothing.