Monday, October 20, 2014

What we build

One strand of barbed wire, one fence post, two rocks moved to the edge of the homestead, to save the plow. These traces are all that is left more than one hundred years later, but the autumn leaves and gone-to-seed weeds are very beautiful.


To build a quiet city in his mind:
A single overwhelming wish: to build,
Not hastily, for there is so much wind,
So many eager smilers to be killed,
Obstructions one might overlook in haste:
The ruined structures cluttering the past,

A little at a time and slow is best,
Crawling as though through endless corridors,
Remembering always there are many doors
That open to admit the captured guest
Once only.
                            Yet in spite of loss and guilt
And hurricanes of time, it might be built:

A refuge, permanent, with trees that shade
When all the other cities die and fade.

Weldon Kees

from The collected poems of Weldon Kees; edited by Donald JusticeUniversity of Nebraska Press, 2003, page 161.

Because of Tim Bowling's book, In the Suicide's Library; A Book Lovers's Journey, which is partly about his investigation of the life of the poet, Weldon Kees, I have been reading about Kees myself. As you can tell from this poem, he was not really a merry person. Eventually he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, but his body was never recovered. His book of poems had to be edited by the fine poet, Donald Justice.

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