Tuesday, May 10, 2005

We Kneel When Encountering A Poem

No matter what writing I've ever done -- and I've written a novel, short stories, articles, plays, case studies, sit com scripts, white papers, book proposals, treasure hunt clues, business plans, marketing documents, fortune cookie doggerel, resumes, stand-up comedy routines, college application essays, a few thousand blog posts and poetry -- I still bow before poetry.

On bended knee, I yield to a good poem, knowing it's the toughest thing to write.

Susan Mernit
just sent me this one and it's so good.


If I said, remembering, in summer,
The cardinal's sudden smudge of red
In the bare grey winter woods--

If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat
Of the girl with the pooched-out lips
Dangling the wiry, blacknosed lapdog
In the painting by Renoir--

If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut--

Or flecks of poppy in the tar-scented summer air
On a wind-struck hill outside Fano--

If I said, her one red earring dangles from her silky lobe,

If she tells fortunes with a deck of fallen leaves
Until it comes out right--

Rouged nipple, mouth--

(how could you not love a woman
who cheats at Tarot?)

Red, I said. Sudden, red.

Robert Hass
The New Yorker, April 25, 2005