May 17, 2011

Susan Denning


for John Ashbery

We were waiting what seemed like a long time,
when someone said they thought the sign
pointing left had been deliberately forged,
and the route to the city had become untenable.
The conversation kept returning to science,
to fields of cows and numbers. Meanwhile
the days paraded their soft perfume. A neighbor
pulled a tapestry from the shelf, and we noticed
how bright the colors were, how the orange
and fuchsia in the bird’s wings made it seem
not mythical, but fleeting, and how the dahlias
woven into the garden held a message of purpose,
or the signs of a leisure we couldn’t possess.
It was all we could do not to comment on it
for hours. Some of us felt strange in the heat,
as though we could taste the sun in our hair,
or fold it in our hands like paper. The past
was to be shunned—if it knocked, we agreed
not to answer. Such forms of resolve
kept us incorrigible for days.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006


Susan Denning: “I came across a quote by Anne Sexton a few years ago that I think sums up how I feel about poetry. She was discussing her difficulties in writing a play, and in comparing it to writing poetry she said, ‘but poetry is my love, my postmark, my hands, my kitchen, my face.’ That quote captures how I feel about poetry and my writing of it better than anything else I might say myself.”

Rattle Logo