I’m reading Paul Zweig. This is the third poem in the second section of his Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details.
I must say that the longer I continue with this project, the more difficult it becomes to bring my full attention to each poem without some calculation entering into it. That is to say, as my desire to write poems in response comes to feel increasingly compulsory, my reading becomes increasingly distracted and fragmentary.
Losing a Friend
by Paul Zweig
When the anger finally came
We were starting to find how much we already knew
About dead friendships . . .
[Remainder of poem removed 9-08-05]
* * * *
How many friends have I neglected
because I was too busy waiting for
the long shadows of January
or watching clouds cross some ephemeral
forest pool, dark with tannins?
How many friendships have withered
while I stalked a slug along an oak log
orange with fungi, agog at its ability
to glide on an instant carpet
& retract the stilts of its eyes
all the way into its head?
I’ve lost friends & learned how to be
merciless with myself – I mean,
how to edit.
Living in this mountain hollow,
I tell myself I could never take
the same walk twice.
I have planted myself here like
a yellow birch sapling on top of a hemlock stump
that rots away even as the birch encircles it
with an apron of roots, & a hundred
years later it still preserves, unseen,
the hollow shape of the corpse
that gave it life.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Them bones
- The pure distance
- Becoming grass
- The fears and pleasures
- Written by the vanquished
- Waiting for the detonation
- Green plague
- That great invention
- To greet the quietness
- Advancing into sleepless woods
- How else?
- What remains
- My life as a landlubber
- Perfect night
- Above the ears, below the waist
- In lieu of listening
- Black stone, yellow field
- City of changes
- The fresh chance
- Too much
- A beach in hell
- When it breaks
- The burden of becoming human
- In slough time
- Restoring the words
- String theories
- Parcels of pure voice
- An undulant map
- Stone-blue winter
- Foreign matter
- Always present
- A sown darkness
- Woods and water
- Fish tales