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Poetry Friday: The natural world

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Collections featured on Poetry Friday
Every Friday in April, dive into poetry from Minneapolis publishers.
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In honor of National Poetry Month, The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, we will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions.

Today's selections come from Tracy K. Smith, David Keplinger and Joseph Lease.

Collections featured on Poetry Friday
Collections featured on Poetry Friday
Courtesy of publishers

Garden of Eden

What a profound longing
I feel, just this very instant, 
For the Garden of Eden
On Montague Street
Where I seldom shopped, 
Usually only after therapy, 
Elbow sore at the crook
From a handbasket filled
To capacity. The glossy pastries! 
Pomegranate, persimmon, quince! 
Once, a bag of black beluga
Lentils spilt a trail behind me
While I labored to find
A tea they refused to carry. 
It was Brooklyn. My thirties. 
Everyone I knew was living
The same desolate luxury, 
Each ashamed of the same things: 
Innocence and privacy. I'd lug
Home the paper bags, doing
Bank-balance math and counting days. 
I'd squint into it, or close my eyes
And let it slam me in the face—
The known sun setting
On the dawning century. 

"Garden of Eden" from "Wade in the Water." Copyright © 2018 by Tracy K. Smith. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.


Letter from Rock Creek

          for Mary Oliver

I want to ask you what that clicking sound
      is named, rising out of Rock
Creek Park, below my little room; but even you
      can't help me pin that down—so many miles

from here, where you are tucked in bed, your
      little room, your neck and chin concealed by the bark
of a burnt sienna scarf;
      so I leave it

as it is, our mood music, and I remember
      shore-days in the Provincetown house,
reading in Hopkins Send my roots rain,
      or anything by Keats, who was

drowned in his ceiling made of flowers,
      while this click in the background
persists, not cricket, some smallest-
      insect-on-record, small enough to be

a gnat's pilot, small like a certain quality
      you have courted in your poems, how you squint
and bend down to things, how you do not disturb
      their place, how this characteristic expands

in my mind as the objects
      themselves grow tinier: the closed hood
of the mushroom's umbrella at night,
      or the clam, an Osiris, locked in its bivalves,

which made a nice supper—how the God
      appears altered, altared, each time you look—even the
scrape of one wing against the other's
      leathery file, to stridulate, to make a click that carries

in mathematical waves, while this singer, untroubled
      by itself, goes on fine without an advocate, a name.

"Letter from Rock Creek" from "Another City." Copyright © 2018 by David Keplinger. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.


Mercy

                                1

                   pink streaks,
sky, pink streaks, branches—buildings
turn purple—the wind sings the moon— 
the moon sings the wind—all the words, 
all the worlds, in one face— 

                                2

one story—the boy and the wren—the
wren and the night—the face in the
house—your lips slip the night—your
face slips your eyes—your eyes slip
your yes—love like flying— 

                                3

where is your kiss—who is your night— 
smile painting, smile sacred arcs of
rain—O taste, O taste and see—I can't
believe we've come to this—you rose—I
can't believe— 

                                4

and all the words—all the hands—you
dream me—dream me there—soft mist, 
soft kiss—mend the world—maybe it's
possible—what do you know—what do
you taste: vodka, ice, soft air, soft air— 
your hands—what if I worship you— 
your life is real— 

                                5

tonight—what's that—your voice, your
wing—tonight can sing tomorrow's
ring—arc, arc me the secret—your
gaze, soft moon—you go so deep—your
sound, your sound—you go so deep— 

"Mercy" from "The Body Ghost." Copyright © 2018 by Joseph Lease. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.