Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “The Trace of Hope from Lock 29: Advent 2018,” by David Adams

Dust Rays

 

The Trace of Hope from Lock 29*: Advent 2018

~David Adams

 

He shuffles through December rain that is waiting to be snow,

waiting to be darkness. The river winds and bubbles,

today its power more a rumble than a roar.

He stands before the remnants of the lock that lifted

the canal boats high across the river’s coils.

 

If he were not alone, someone might hear him whisper

“The river is a path, the canal is a path, and then

the water’s voices, too.” All paths that lead

to last night’s dream, with his question to

a cloud above his bed: How am I to love all things

laid before me at this age of counting losses, in such a world as this?

Lovers, friends and creatures—all consigned to memories.

Hopefulness has always been his answer,

but now the favored scripture passes from his lips

like a habit worn out from its use.

Lord I believe…

 

They built this canal to tame the waters,

but no water is ever tamed for good.

The canals fell to the rails, that fell to roads,

that swelled to highways. Each chance buried in another’s hope.

In any case he is standing here alone, once the hope of two,

waiting at the mossy lock as if it were a sepulcher.

 

Long ago, in a time of sorrow, a country pastor

told him “Think of the present imperfect.

Be emptying your hopes of everything but hope.

Figure it out. You will be okay.”

 

He remembers two years ago exactly,

Driving back down Riverview, dazzled

by sunlight slanting through a stand of cedars

Like a fold of angels. But that was then.

Now the rain has found its temperature.

In the darkness graupel dances on his hood

and in his lights, sparking in the darkness.

He is drifting to the boy in the back seat

of a Mercury, staring at the Christmas lights,

his breath a halo on the glass, the soft voices of assurance.

The snow becoming fire, becoming stars.

He is thinking he will be okay.

 

 

*A note to my distant friends. Lock 29 on the old Ohio & Erie Canal was actually an aqueduct that raised the canal boats above the bending stretch of the Cuyahoga River at the village of Peninsula, Ohio. Remnants of the old lock remain, and I have visited many times. For some reason, Lock 29 called to me as a site for this year’s poem. You might think it an odd place to seek hopefulness, but I have found all such places to appear odd choices, at least at first.

 

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Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “After Apple-Picking,” by Robert Frost

Center for Poetry intern Allison Costello said this about her choice for this week’s poem: “I chose this classic poem because I wanted something reflective to close out the autumn season. I think this semester has been a tough one for many people, and there’s nothing quite like the wise comfort (and touch of sorrow) that Frost consistently conveys in his work. While it may be cliché to use such a poem to represent the turn of the seasons and a time for rest, I think it contains an honesty and mix of emotions that many people can relate to regarding their own accomplishments and dreams in the final month of the year.

 

After Apple-Picking

By Robert Frost

 

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still,

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and disappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin

The rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.