personal favorites / poetry collections… The Forest by Susan Stewart / poems & audio

Susan Stewart

The Forest

 
 
 

an untitled piece – (We needed fire…) – from the collection:

We needed fire to make
the tongs and tongs to hold
us from the flame; we needed
ash to clean the cloth
and cloth to clean the ash’s
stain; we needed stars
to find our way, to make
the light that blurred the stars;
we needed death to mark
an end, an end that time
in time could mend.
Born in love, the consequence–
born of love, the need.
Tell me, ravaged singer,
how the cinder bears the seed.

 
~
 

Stewart reads – as part of the Wednesdays @ 4 Plus – SUNY-Buffalo program (UB Buffalo Poetics Series) – poems from The Forest.

 
~
 

“The Forest”

You should lie down now and remember the forest,
for it is disappearing–
no, the truth is it is gone now
and so what details you can bring back
might have a kind of life.

Not the one you had hoped for, but a life
–you should lie down now and remember the forest–
nonetheless, you might call it “in the forest,”
no the truth is, it is gone now,
starting somewhere near the beginning, that edge,

Or instead the first layer, the place you remember
(not the one you had hoped for, but a life)
as if it were firm, underfoot, for that place is a sea,
nonetheless, you might call it “in the forest,”
which we can never drift above, we were there or we were not,

No surface, skimming. And blank in life, too,
or instead the first layer, the place you remember,
as layers fold in time, black humus there,
as if it were firm, underfoot, for that place is a sea,
like a light left hand descending, always on the same keys.

The flecked birds of the forest sing behind and before
no surface, skimming. And blank in life, too,
sing without a music where there cannot be an order,
as layers fold in time, black humus there,
where wide swatches of light slice between gray trunks,

Where the air has a texture of drying moss,
the flecked birds of the forest sing behind and before:
a musk from the mushrooms and scalloped molds.
They sing without a music where there cannot be an order,
though high in the dry leaves something does fall,

Nothing comes down to us here.
Where the air has a texture of drying moss,
(in that place where I was raised) the forest was tangled,
a musk from the mushrooms and scalloped molds,
tangled with brambles, soft-starred and moving, ferns

And the marred twines of cinquefoil, false strawberry, sumac–
nothing comes down to us here,
stained. A low branch swinging above a brook
in that place where I was raised, the forest was tangled,
and a cave just the width of shoulder blades.

You can understand what I am doing when I think of the entry–
and the marred twines of cinquefoil, false strawberry, sumac–
as a kind of limit. Sometimes I imagine us walking there
(. . .pokeberry, stained. A low branch swinging above a brook)
in a place that is something like a forest.

But perhaps the other kind, where the ground is covered
(you can understand what I am doing when I think of the entry)
by pliant green needles, there below the piney fronds,
a kind of limit. Sometimes I imagine us walking there.
And quickening below lie the sharp brown blades,

The disfiguring blackness, then the bulbed phosphorescence of the roots.
But perhaps the other kind, where the ground is covered,
so strangely alike and yet singular, too, below
the pliant green needles, the piney fronds.
Once we were lost in the forest, so strangely alike and yet singular, too,
but the truth is, it is, lost to us now.

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~ by samofthetenthousandthings on May 12, 2012.

One Response to “personal favorites / poetry collections… The Forest by Susan Stewart / poems & audio”

  1. fragile tears…

    […]personal favorites / poetry collections… The Forest by Susan Stewart / poems & audio « sam of the ten thousand things[…]…

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