Thursday, February 04, 2010

Into the White

So on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac in the index for Stephen Dunn this poem gets typoed, and is called "Lineliness." That's poetry for you, and one why, perhaps, I'm giving most of my poetry books away since I've been a deceased poet for over decade now. But I'm not giving away my Stephen Dunn, not when he writes a poem like this one.


So many different kinds,
yet only one vague word.
And the Eskimos
with twenty-six words for snow,

such a fine alertness
to what variously presses down.
Yesterday I saw lovers
hugging in the street,

making everyone around them
feel lonely, and the lovers themselves --
wasn't a deferred loneliness
waiting for them?

There must be words

for what our aged mothers, removed
in those unchosen homes, keep inside,
and a separate word for us
who've sent them there, a word

for the secret loneliness of salesmen,
for how I feel touching you
when I'm out of touch.
The contorted, pocked, terribly ugly man

shopping in the 24-hour supermarket
at 3 a.m. -- a word for him --
and something, please,
for this nameless ache here

in this nameless spot.
If we paid half as much attention
to our lives as Eskimos to snow...
Still, the little lies,

the never enough.
No doubt there must be Eskimos
in their white sanctums, thinking
just let it fall, accumulate.



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