A Poem For Sunday


Selected by Alice Quinn and Matthew Sitman

"The Day of the Sun" by Vijay Seshadri:

Arriving early at the limit of understanding,
I managed to find a good seat,
and settled in with the others,
who were fanning away the heat

with their programs full of blank pages.
The orchestra was in place,
and soon the show started.
First, deep space

rose high and flooded the stage,
immersing all the spots
where our thoughts could have fixed
if our minds had thoughts.

Which they didn’t. Then
the sun came out and stood.
That was all that happened,
and ever would.

(From The Long Meadow © 2004 by Vijay Seshadri. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Graywolf Press. Photo by Flickr user kxcd)

A Poem For Saturday


Selected by Alice Quinn and Matthew Sitman:

"Girl Riding Bareback" by Chase Twichell:

These late summer afternoons are so like childhood’s
they take my breath and breathe it with me,
take it and breathe it without me.

Curved hot muscle of the neck, the chestnut shoulders
flowing through the uncut hay—

old August daydream come to visit
a place that looks familiar,
a field like the field it remembers—

arrows of sun falling harmless on a girl
and the big imaginary animal of her self.

(From Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems © 2010 by Chase Twichell. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Copper Canyon Press. Photo by Flickr user Dr. Hemmert)

A Poem For Friday


Selected by Alice Quinn and Matthew Sitman

"A Memory" by Charles Baudelaire:

All this was long ago, but I do not forget
Our small white house, between the city and the farms;
The Venus, the Pomona,–I remember yet
How in the leaves they hid their chipping plaster charms;
And the majestic sun at evening, setting late,
Behind the pane that broke and scattered his bright rays,
How like an open eye he seemed to contemplate
Our long and silent dinners with a curious gaze:
The while his golden beams, like tapers burning there,
Made splendid the serge curtains and the simple fare.

(From Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire, 1857. Translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay ©1936 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis. Reprinted by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, The Millay Society. Photo by Flickr user jeremyfoo)

A Poem For Monday


by Alice Quinn and Matthew Sitman

"Digging in the Garden of Age I Uncover a Live Root" by May Swenson:

The smell of wet geraniums. On furry
leaves, transparent drops rounded
as cats’ eyes seen sideways.
Smell of the dark earth, and damp
brick of the pots you held, tamped empty.
Flash of the new trowel. Your eyes
green in greenhouse light. Smell of
your cotton smock, of your neck
in the freckled shade of your hair.
A gleam of sweat in your lip’s scoop.
Pungent geranium leaves, their wet
smell when our widening pupils met.

(Reprinted with permission of The Literary Estate of May Swenson, forthcoming in May Swenson: Collected Poems (Library of America, 2013) . All rights reserved. Photo by Flickr user ndrwfgg) Update from a reader:

The attempt was noble, but that's not the flower referred to in the poem.  The "geraniums" of pots and greenhouses were once regarded as species of the genus Geranium and that is how they came to be known that way even still today in common gardening parlance, but unfortunately years before I was born in 1960 botanists collectively decided they were actually species in a different genus named Pelargonium.  This sort of change does happen from time to time in biology, but it can make for confusing horticulture. 

If you do an image search on "Pelargonium" you'll see the sorts of "geraniums" the poem refers to.

A Poem For Sunday


by Alice Quinn and Matthew Sitman

"Song to Life Giver," translated from the Aztec by Peter Everwine:

What lies in store for us, Life Giver?
Up there, above us,
you forge your designs, you command them,
and, perhaps, in your disgust,
you hide from us on earth
your light and glory.
What lies in store for us,
You, without a friend on earth?

(From Working the Song Fields: Poems of the Aztecs. Translation © 2009 by Peter Everwine. Reprinted with the permission of Eastern Washington University Press. Photo by Flickr user Luca Castellazzi)