September 30, 2009

singing a song about the wildness of the sea

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The Night House

Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass-
The grass of civics, the grass of money-
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body-the house of voices-
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.

–Billy Collins

[image: No Cream, No Sugar, by Jeremy Asher Lynch, via]

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4 Comments »

  • What a lovely poetry interlude. I am a creative writing MFA student and I spend my days figuring out WHY pieces work. Billy Collins’ poetry is alchemical. I have no suggestions or theories on why his poems work so well on so many people.

    Brianna — October 1, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  • That’s very nice, Heather! When did you go all poetic on us….? ;)

    Greg — October 1, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  • i’ve been more pensive lately, and poetry works well with that, eh?

    browneheather — October 1, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  • Billy Collins on death, gratitude for mothers and sunglasses:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4990320

    Dan — October 8, 2009 @ 4:31 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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