The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

The Lexicographer's Prayer
By Pattiann Rogers

Write for me now the name
of the hanging willow branch in cold
rain, then the name of the willow branch
moving with summer wind. Give me
the word for summer wind as ruffling
killdeer feathers, the word for cold rain
off black umbrellas.

Not the name of the poplar, not the name
of the coral-yellow evening sky, but tell me
the name for the single thing that exists
as they are one, a seamless union.

And what is the pine woods snake called
when it is unwitnessed, imagined beneath
forest leaf and litter? What is the name
of the same snake when exposed to the sky,
observed, in the hand, remarked upon,
a different entity? Pronounce
the words slowly.

And what is this--ice enclosing fallen
cattail stalks, not two together, but one essence,
each constituting the other.

Moon and moon and moon all over the lake,
broken, misshapen, fluttering, one of them
penetrated momentarily by my toe...these are not
sky moons, not rock moons, but something else.
Wavering-water moons? Elusive liquid moons?
One toe moon? One moon-wet toe? Or, being
without substance, no moons at all?

Here are my definitions: 1. street lamp
with no magpie atop 2. street lamp
with three magpies atop. Spell
the word for each.

And say the single sound for this: autumn-
morning-crow-call in the heart. Altered,
altered, I’m certain; neither call nor heart
is the same alone.

Come now to my aid. My book
is frighteningly incomplete.


I owe lots and lots of mail and a beta to do but I have a headache from filibuster compromises and county sex ed idiocy and kids' homework chaos and am going to bed. Have seen and shared calamari with gblvr (who told me about the potential Harry Potter leak), have not-seen but made plans with vertigo66, have managed brief telephone conversation with mamadracula, and sometimes that is the best one can ask from a day.

Good news: older son has been invited to school awards ceremony, bad news: it's June 2nd, same day as the Cinderella Man preview for which I have a free pass that it seems I will not get to use. In the course of having made kids clean the living room, have rediscovered Ships of the American Revolution and several books on the USS Constitution purchased last summer in New England, so am very excited to have reading material. Also a book on Captain Cook's voyage that I had forgotten I'd bought, which has a whole section on John Harrison and the longitude prize.

Also in the course of having made kids clean up, have uncovered two folded posters of Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, flip side HMS Surprise, with some other smaller pictures from Master and Commander; will be glad to pass on, comment if you want one. Also found a brand new copy of The Heart of Me (Region 1, Paul Bettany-Helena Bonham-Carter), purchased for a friend who's no longer a friend -- anyone wanting to save me the trouble of, make me an offer please -- will be happy to throw in some other Paul stuff though not mint condition like this. And I have two Star Trek crossword puzzle books, difficult for me despite extensive knowledge of Star Trek, probably impossible for a novice: if you want 'em, just say so.

And I made krabapple write McGonagall/Lockhart which she has finally posted in public! Go and adore her.

Last of the tulip tree flowers brought down in the storm.

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