A Poem For Saturday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Twenty five years ago, the poet Nicholas Christopher edited an influential anthology featuring thirty seven poets who were then (as the title declared) Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets. In the years since, his talent for choosing poets whose work would grow increasingly important has been roundly confirmed.  It was there that I was introduced to the wit, gravity, and highly individualistic slant of the work of Vijay Seshadri, America’s newest Pulitzer Prize winner in Poetry.

Summer often turns our thoughts and hearts to love. We’ll feature some love poems from this landmark book in the days ahead, beginning with Seshadri’s poem dedicated to his wife Suzanne Khuri.

“My Esmeralda” by Vijay Seshadri:

 for S.O.K.

Some people like each other and are therefore like each other,
but I like you and therefore I’m
so original a burden on my time
that all the lifeguards ring their bells
when I rise from my exclusive underneath
to wash in your England of seaside hotels,

climb my perch and send off, over the panorama
of what’s most yours—those glowing herds
of prehistoric bison, sunk in clear light
up to the eyes, browsing elsewhere
extinct skyhigh ferns—
my messenger birds,
speckled and superfine,
to soar the asymptotic line
that touches you at infinity. Big mama!

Not once in any of the meretricious annals
I’m forced to read, have I read
of you, nor through the maps
I have to make sense of
have I ever watched you pass.
Among words, you’re the meaning of ‘glass,’
and you as a river will cut your own channels.

(From Wild Kingdom © 1996 by Vijay Seshadri. Reprinted with permission of Graywolf Press. Photo of the town of Hastings, on the English coast, by Luton Anderson)