I’ve been reading Paul Zweig, and responding to his poems with poems of my own: thirty-three of them so far. I haven’t done this in close to a month, though, so I’m not sure how successfully I’ll be able to get back into it.
This is the sixteenth poem in the third (“Eternity’s Woods”) section of Zweig’s Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details on this experiment in responsive reading.
This You May Keep
by Paul Zweig
A showering of branches,
Leaves in all their fits, their sultry shakes,
Like voices circling in a room . . .
[Remainder of poem removed 12-28-05]
* * * *
This You Must Know
The surface tension of water, & how to use it
for nearly effortless walking.
Light without heat: what every glowworm knows.
What it means to be larval,
to have complicated mouthparts
& the sprout-tips of wings.
The secrets of chitin, which imposes limits to growth
through an architect’s dream of fully inhabitable space.
Why snow fleas persist in seeking their fortunes
on the skin of such a cold, white host.
What the inchworm really measures
with its green prostrations.
What this is that we are told
Chitin, pronounced KITE-n, is a nitrogenous polysaccharide – i.e., a type of sugar – responsible for the tough, outer shells of most invertebrates, including insect exoskeletons, as well as the architecture of fungal mycelia and lichens.