This poem is appropriate for today's late post -- it was "take your kids to work" day and both of mine opted to come to work with me. Breakfast, then working with a friend at Borders for 3 hours, then lunch, then meeting with another writer friend at the library for an hour and a half, and then, off to the local pounds to see the pound puppies.
The poem I'm about to share with you is one of my favorites. It rattles around in my head from time to time.
I first heard it at a poetry seminar last June, when the poet, Dan Maguire, recited it from memory in his glorious baritone. Dan is a helluva poet, as you're about to see. The poem is in iambic hexameter and features lots of lovely internal rhyme and repetition, alliteration and assonance. The envoi (the three lines at the end) breaks away from the hexameter entirely, drawing from the earlier three stanzas to pull everything together to the perfect ending. But you will see that for yourself:
The Lateness of the Day
(For Patricia Weatherby)
by Dan Maguire
It is the lateness of the day that turns my head,
that turns my mind and winds my head to ticking clocks,
the clocks that mock the destinations and designs
of all the things that I would do and be, set down,
lined up, like stops upon a route. They stretch away,
much farther than they first appeared. And time, still young,
still running on ahead in cruel surprise; too far
ahead, too far to call back now and ask to wait,
to ask if there is light enough to travel on.
It is the lateness of the day that turns my head.
It is the thinness of the light that hurts my eyes,
that squints and strains my eyes until they burn and blur;
blurred and burning with resentment at this light
which lacks the will to cast a shadow, form a shade,
a dimness into which unfocused eyes might peer,
imagining a face, the movement of a form--
a face and form unable to be seen again
by other means than these . . . it does not mean I mourn.
I'm inconvenienced by the lateness of the day.
It is the thinness of the light that hurts my eyes.
It is the darkness of the night that chills the heart,
that tells the heart the quiet lie it longs to hear:
that there is life within the noises of the night--
the creaking board might be a footstep on the stairs,
the wind which mumbles through the window frame becomes
the rise and fall of voices from another room
where dusty emptiness conceals itself and waits
to brand its barren, useless truth upon the soul . . .
the universe looks on, obscure and unconcerned.
It is the darkness of the night that chills the heart.
It is the darkness of the night, the thinness of the light,
it is the lateness of the day that tricks me into whispering
Many thanks to my friend Dan for giving me permission to post his lovely poem on my blog. Dan Maguire frequently does readings in the Greater Philadelphia area, including southern New Jersey. He will be reading in Deptford, New Jersey tomorrow night at 7:15. The program is part of Art and Poetry in the Courtroom Cafe, at the Deptford Municipal Building - 1011 Cooper St., Deptford. He will also be reading at the Poetry and Spoken Word Corner of this year’s Fairmount Arts Crawl, Sunday, April 29, 2007 at Ward Park, a small veteran’s pocket park at the corner of 24th and Aspen Streets from 2 to 5:30 pm. Dan is scheduled to read at 3:30. By all means, go see him read if you get the chance (whether at one of these events or otherwise).