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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Reading about poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg (Supernatural Love). As Susan told me, she was married to philosopher Robert Nozick who died in 2002. She didn't write another book of poetry after that for a decade. Her newest book is Heavenly Questions, and I saw an excerpt from the beginning of one of the poems of that book ....

The Light-Gray Soil

Shambles of grief in daylight under heaven.
I sit among the living, in a park,
Three miles from where he’s laid to rest, three months.
Foot traffic dimly swirls around me, throngs
Of the unbidden pass me, the unburied.
I sit inside a coat he gave me once.
Systole and diastole. Not knowing when
I halted at this bench, not knowing when
I ceased to stalk the sidewalk, came to rest,
Not knowing, since it doesn’t matter when.
My heart-walls moving of their own accord.
A helpless deed, systole and diastole,
Two halves carved from a pre-existing whole.
Contracting, and the chambers fill with blood.
Dilating, and the blood is surging through.
Five heaps of being, five, the beggar said.
O beggar, I have seen the mound of earth
When all the rivers call their fountains back.
I wore my shoes away, I wore away
The stockings from my feet, seeking the house
Where no beloved person ever died,
No father, mother, husband, wife, or child.
Earth’s crust diminishing beneath my feet.
The mantle glimpsed. The churning iron core.
My hand lies next to me, begging, unheld:
Another earth. Give me another earth ......


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