Woods and water

This entry is part 41 of 42 in the series Antiphony: Paul Zweig


I have been reading Paul Zweig, and responding to his poems with poems of my own. This is the next to last 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.

Eternity’s Woods
by Paul Zweig

I have come to this house
Of soft angular stone, wondering
How much must fall away before I have nothing.

[Remainder of poem removed to avoid violating copyright]

* * * *


I have sought to borrow inspiration
as others borrow comfort
from strange lovers. Let me

press my ear, I said, against
the scallop shell at the base
of your throat. Let me hear

the throb of the surf, & dream
of ships. What were we
talking about, again? I caught

nothing but a swallowed sob,
a corrosive drip. Compostela
remained a day’s walk away from
the Cape of the End of the Earth,

which was of course pure hype.
Right here in the hollow
where I grew up, I have heard
water trickling under the rocks,

& once my brother & I even dug
for it, four feet down through
a jumble of sandstone. When
we quit, the water sounded

just as loud as it had before
we started. I used to search
for a clearing in the woods
where, when the wind stopped,

the only sound would come
from a hidden spring. But
I didn’t want it ever to be found,

not even by me. Solitude
has since become my deadliest habit.
I don’t know what I am doing

here, talking to a dead poet as if to
my better nature, dreaming of poems
that would taste as good as water.

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