John Greenleaf Whittier 9 p.m., Nov. 22
Three poems by Mark Jarman
“The Chalk of Moses,” “She Twirled,” and “O World Flung Inward”
The Chalk of Moses Skreeks Between My Fingers
- The chalk of Moses skreeks between my fingers.
- Milton’s blindness burns through my sheer eyelids.
- Edmondsen’s hammer and chisel weigh down both my hands.
- Yes, in my dreams.
- Let me start again. I bite my index finger
- and follow a trail of thought into a tunnel,
- not moving from my desk, sweeping for clues,
- footing it slowly.
- Walls drop tapestries. Ceilings buckle.
- Interior rooms unfold like ruined churches.
- And bodies ready to be coupled with
- produce lampblack for ink.
- I look around for one true standing thing
- or lying thing. Rising from underfoot
- the realm of space is dizzying and close.
- I lean, put down a word.
She Twirled Along the Brick Wall, Fingertips
- She twirled along the brick wall, fingertips
- clawing at mortar to take hold
- and skittering over the wall face like a keyboard,
- frantic, muted.
- And I as usual was just trudging along,
- head down — on ice this time — more of a mincing
- than true trudging, though my soul trudged,
- when I caught her.
- Slim, young, padded in pleated fleece,
- and taller than I as I helped her stand,
- she pulled an earplug out beneath her knit cap,
- said, “Ouch.”
- And said it like a quiet bid for privacy.
- Paternal, winded, I wanted an assurance.
- And she assured me with a thanks that meant,
- “Just let me cry.”
O World Flung Inward by an Arm of Stars
- O world flung inward by an arm of stars,
- feeling out of control or stalled,
- o friend or enemy, propelled
- always it seems without effort
- among stars, a star yourself,
- trailing your solar wind,
- asleep in your life
- as we dream you’re awake,
- spare part, vital particle,
- hung in a table leg or wisp of steam,
- your permanence and evanescence
- balanced by a term of art,
- o make a joyful noise,
- you’re on your way,
- your transit has been noted
- and made music.