Because of formatting issues, the following poems appear double-spaced. Line breaks occur in the poems only where quadruple space appears!

--SS

 

I Am Mirror

 

Water sparkles

on my skin

and I donít feel it

water streams

down my back

I donít feel it

I rub myself with a towel

I pinch myself in the arm

I donít feel

frightened I look at myself in the mirror

she also pricks herself

I begin to get dressed

stumbling

from the corners

shouts like lightning bolts

tortured eyes

scurrying rats

and teeth shoot forth

although I feel nothing

I wander through the streets:

children with dirty faces

ask me for charity

child prostitutes

who are not yet fifteen

the streets are paved with pain

tanks that approach

raised bayonets

bodies that fall

weeping

finally I feel my arm

I am no longer a phantom

I hurt

therefore I exist

I return to watch the scene:

children who run

bleeding

women with panic

in their faces

this time it hurts me less

I pinch myself again

and already I feel nothing

I simply reflect

what happens at my side

the tanks

are not tanks

nor are the shouts

shouts

I am a blank mirror

that nothing penetrates

my surface

is hard

is brilliant

is polished

I became a mirror

and I am fleshless

scarcely preserving

a vague memory

of pain.

 

            (by Claribel Alegria, 1978)

 

Digging

 

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

 

Under my window, a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:

My father, digging.  I look down

 

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.

 

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

 

By God, the old man could handle a spade.

Just like his old man.

 

My grandfather cut more turf in a day.

Than any other man on Tonerís bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

 

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf.  Digging.

 

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But Iíve no spade to follow men like them.

 

Between my finger and thumb

The squat pen rests.

Iíll dig with it.

 

                        (Seamus Heaney, 1966)


In the Spring and the Fall

In the spring of the year, in the spring of the year, 

I walked the road beside my dear. 

The trees were black where the bark was wet. 

I see them yet, in the spring of the year. 

He broke me a bough of the blossoming peach 

That was out of the way and hard to reach. 

In the fall of the year, in the fall of the year, 

I walked the road beside my dear. 

The rooks went up with a raucous trill. 

I hear them still, in the fall of the year. 

He laughed at all I dared to praise, 

And broke my heart, in little ways. 



Year be springing or year be falling, 

The bark will drip and the birds be calling. 

There's much that's fine to see and hear 

In the spring of a year, in the fall of a year. 

'Tis not love's going hurt my days. 

But that it went in little ways. 

 

                  by Edna St. Vincent Millay  (1892-1950)