2016 Laureates’ Choice - Group Six
Sonnet for Marianne
So soft, so sweet, her final breath
I hardly knew the air had moved –
she gave a sigh, life became death,
flesh became dust, loving loved.
It's hard to understand how dust
and air and water, only these
can love so much, and hurt and lust
and hope and grieve – such alchemies
she teaches me, that all things must
return to silent earth, unspeaking peace.
And yet, and yet in mind I hold
her in my arms again before
the dawn till I grow white and old
she breathes. And then no more.
Another night has come. The grass is white
with dew distilled out of the summer's heat,
the air hangs straight with fog. See how our feet
draw out this meadow path, dark steps on light,
gray shapes in silver framing. Petals strew
this ground by day; all trace of us is drowned
in floral tides, and scattered in the sound
of scented winds ascending into blue.
We come alive at night, knowing that days
are dull, preoccupied, and they forget
all wonders but their own. Night is the best,
remarking underneath fixed stars these ways
we walked, the closed buds trampled underfoot,
these grasses broken where we lay to rest.
Amherst Winter Whites
The frost ferns freeze across the windowpane;
Across Main Street, the meadow’s laced in ice.
She scrawls a few lines, vivid but concise:
Majestic Nature caught appearing plain.
Lynx-like, the snow clouds crouch above the field;
They wait to spring a blizzard on the town.
The storm’s advance will very quickly drown
The roofs and roads. The hemlock hedges yield.
The glass conservatory holds July
And April. Lilies, tulips, daffodils
Are forced to bloom along the windowsills
Despite the snowy, oyster-shell-grey sky.
Circumference? A garden’s labyrinth:
Outside, the storm; inside, white hyacinth.