You were blue today
So I told you, “You look nice.”
And you were still blue.
My home was not that yellow house
Where my mother took to alcohol
To quell the pains that I am only now
Given to understand.
My home was the yard behind it
On moonless nights
With 6,000 stars overhead
Where I’d find peace.
You can never go home again
Wrote Thomas Wolfe—how did he know
They’d build up my hometown
And need more streetlights?
Now my home is a Brigadoon
That returns on that rare night
When power fails
Under clear skies.
Who says that all must vanish?Who knows, perhaps the flight
of the bird you wound remains,
and perhaps flowers survive
caresses in us, in their ground.
It isn’t the gesture that lasts,
but it dresses you again in gold
armor —from breast to knees—
and the battle was so pure
an Angel wears it after you..
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
In memory of those who will give all
Fighting future wars,
Still just children,
Now just children
Playing at games of war,
I shed these tears for your parents’ hearts broken.
The year you thought you were dying
was a really great year.
You ate licorice on the beach in January,
swam rum sauced in the icy Pacific
wearing only blue rubber flippers
and your grandfather’s dog tags
and for the first time, it felt good to be cold,
it felt good to be so cold it hurt.
You doted on pigeons and stray cats.
You ate honey peanuts in the park
and re-watched every movie that ever made you
cry, including Steve Martin’s The Jerk.
You tattooed your entire body in Pablo Neruda
translations and cherry blossoms.
You blew all your money on comfortable shoes
and one of those mattresses made from NASA space foam.
You slept the sleep of assassins and kings—remorseless.
You bought chocolate bars from all the kids who came
to your door and stock-piled them in your broom closet.
You left them in your will to THE SECRETARIES,
every last one of them.
You volunteered at the local senior center playing bingo.
When you won you forced to whole room to take shots of
Welch’s grape juice and sing the national anthem.
And you spent time with your favorite lover.
You let him get close.
Secret suicide note, nonsense alibi close.
shampoo scent dissection close.
Close enough to memorize your tells,
hand you your ass at pillow poker,
make your defenses look like the silly decoupage
of paper angels and Victorian roses that they were.
Close enough that your laughter
punched him with mint gum puffs.
Close enough that his sighs drove circles
in the parking lots of your sighs,
close enough to measure your ribcage
in wrists, your palms in lips.
So close, you didn’t even notice
your heart speed up, then stop,
when he kissed you so hard,
when the New Year’s ball dropped down.
Now leave me in peace
and learn to do without me.
I am going to close my eyes.
And I want five things only,
five chosen roots.
Once is an endless love.
The second is to see the autumn.
I cannot be if the leaves
don’t fly and fall to earth.
The third is the solemn winter,
the rain I loved, the caress
of fire on the wild coldness.
In fourth place, summer
plump as a watermelon.
The fifth thing is your eyes.
Matilde, my dear love,
I will not sleep without your eyes,
I do not want to be if you’re not looking at me:
I’d give up spring
for you to keep on looking at me.
That, friends, is all I want.
Nearly nothing, and almost everything.
Now you can go if you wish.
I have lived so much that some day
you will have to forget me forcibly,
rubbing me off the blackboard:
My heart went on forever.
But because I ask for silence,
don’t think that I’m going to die.
On the contrary:
It happens that I’m going to live.
It happens that I am, and I’m going on.
So it will only be inside me
that grains will grow,
first the sprouts thrusting through
the earth to see the light,
but mother Earth is dark:
and inside I am dark:
I am like a well on whose water
night leaves its stars
to go on alone across the fields.
It’s a question of having lived so much
that I want to live that much more.
I never felt my voice so clear,
never so rich in kisses.
Now, as always, it is early.
Light flies with its bees.
Let me alone with the day.
I ask leave to be born.
Broad and Yellow is the Evening Light by Anna Akhmatova
Broad and yellow is the evening light
Tender the April coolness
You are so many years late,
Nevertheless I am glad you came.
Sit here close to me
And look on joyfully:
Here is a blue composition book
With the poems of my childhood.
Forgive me that I ignored the sun
And that I lived in sorrow
Forgive, forgive that I
Mistook too many others for you.
Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966)