What is your response to literature?
How about a stingray washed up on the shore
at dawn? And a big, raw ball of oil beside it?
When did you memorize the times tables?
And the meaning of multiplicative inverse,
the circumference of a steel band around the Earth?
Listen: the wind in a band is answering their summons.
And like your sister, studying the meteorological
paradigm, the eel-like stratagems, all
the deference paid to the paragons of arrogance,
the gold-plated locks, the volumes, dusted
with pollen of columbine, that present
the work of Bunyan, cast in the similitude
of a dream--you, perhaps, are like any man
who has just been afforded a few privileges
far surpassing your station without knowing it.
Even if you are perhaps immersed
in the strange dying blooms of the Octobrist,
the leaves, the golden plums of the spirit,
so too are you corporeal, and testing the strength
of materials, the rust preventative for pipes,
pistachio essence, pine syrup, pins for watches,
plant preservatives and the repairing of pivots,
oil of rose geranium, clouds, palaces, armies,
spectrums, prodigies, and other strange
prismatic objects through which we regard
this dark star we inhabit. It is after midnight.
My gentle-hearted friend, the sky is growing tame,
and gentler in the fading light. The crickets
are shrilling in the hedgerows under the bright
unnameable planets. It is nothing. It is merely
redemption, crisis, and coherence...
it is an ultimate, eventual coherence.
Geoffrey Nutter has published four books: A Summer Evening; Water's Leaves & Other Poems; Christopher Sunset; and most recently The Rose of January, published by Wave Books. He has taught poetry at Columbia, The New School, NYU, Poets House, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and currently runs the Wallson Glass Poetry Seminars in upper Manhattan.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan