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A Poem for a Thursday #19

Photo by David Klein on Unsplash
Richard Wilbur served in WWII, attended Harvard University, and then taught at Harvard, Wellesley Wesleyan University, and Smith College. He was the U.S. poet laureate in 1987 and 1988. I like anything about words and writing and I think this poem about his daughter writing a story is beautiful.

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor or the desk-top.

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure, 

It lifted off from a chair-back
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder. 

The Writer
Richard Wilbur


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Book Review//My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber



I grew up going to Cape Cod for a week every summer. We loved it and spent weeks ahead of time thinking and planning. We always rented a cottage, usually at the same place, and we spent the week eating seafood, walking the National Seashore, collecting buckets of shells and rocks, and trying to convince our parents to visit tacky gift shops. The Cape has become more and more crowded over the years and I don't go back very often but it still holds a special place in my heart. When I smell the salt marshes and feel the sand between my toes, when I eat fried shrimp while sitting at a picnic table at a roadside clam shack, and when I watch the sunset at Rock Harbor I feel like I have returned to my childhood.

I just finished My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber. My grandmother loaned me a book by Taber and I enjoyed it so I got this from the library yesterday and gobbled it down. Taber owned a house on the Cape during the '60s and '70s and wrote lovingly about a Cape that existed just slightly before my time. She, too, watched the sunsets at Rock Harbor and visited First Encounter beach. She loved the beach roses as I do and she appreciated the special Cape Cod scenery.

On the way to absorb a Rock Harbor sunset, I passed the beach plums along the meadow-edge of Rock Harbor Road. They were just coming into full bloom and they are the real music of May. The flowers are close-set on charcoal branches and the bushes themselves are graceful as a ballet dancer. The blooming is whiter than white until the end of it when the whole bush turns a soft Victorian shade of pink and then ebbs to cinnamon. 

The book reads as if you are having a gentle conversation with an old friend. She rants a bit about modern day life and how we are all being reduced to numbers. I wonder what she would think of our passwords and pins that we have to remember now. She mentions hippies and the Vietnam War but both of these are passing mentions. In general, you sink back into a nostalgic world where neighbors watch out for each other and no one locks their door.

I mention this kind of thing every now and then as a part of the nervous strain of present-day livng. When I was child, I had one number to remember-7-our house was 7 Brokaw Place. Now, in nightmares, I find I have lost my social security number, my zip code, my bank identification number, and the ten digits that should go on the bottom of every dividend check. In a few years, children will be named Four and Five, like Beverley Nichols' cats. I can see it coming, even on Cape Cod!

This was the perfect book to read on a cold, snowy day. It was gentle and peaceful and nostalgic. Her love for the Cape shines through the whole book. Many of her other books are about Stillmeadow, her farm in Connecticut. I live in Connecticut and greatly enjoy those as well.

What is Cape Cod?
It is an amethyst glow at the horizon over Mill Pond, announcing dawn.
It is the Full Flower Moon in May walking in gold on quiet water.
It is intrepid fishermen setting out in small boats in wind and waves.
It is the same boats rocking gently at anchor in the opal sunset harbor.
Shadblow and beach plum in drifts of snow followed by wild wide-petaled roses on every slope, these are Cape Cod. 

A Poem for a Thursday #18

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
John Drinkwater was an English poet and dramatist who lived from 1851-1923. He was associated with poets such as Rupert Brooke. He had great success with his play, Abraham Lincoln which premiered in England, was produced on Broadway, and then was turned into a film in 1924. I only came across a couple of his poems but I particularly liked this one. It is very visual in its descriptions.

At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.

A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches, and then
There is no sound at the top of the house of men
Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again
Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.

They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;
On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams
Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,
And quiet is the steep stair under.

In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.
And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep
Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep
On moon-washed apples of wonder.

Moonlit Apples
John Drinkwater

Visit Brona's Books and Pastry & Purls for more poems.