Monday, July 21, 2008

Kay Ryan, Three Poems from The Niagara River

"Weak Forces"

I enjoy an accumulating
faith in weak forces—
a weak faith, of course,
easily shaken, but also
easily regained—in what
starts to drift: all the
slow untrainings of the mind,
the sift left of resolve
sustained too long, the
strange internal shift
by which there's no knowing
if this is the road taken
or untaken. There are soft
affinities, possibly electrical;
lint-like congeries; moonlit
hints; asymmetrical pink
glowy spots that are not
the defeat of something,
I don't think.

"Repulsive Theory"
Little has been made
of the soft skirting action
of magnets reversed,
while much has been
made of attraction.
But is it not this pillowy
principle of repulsion
that produces the
doily edges of oceans
or the arabesques of thought?
And do these cutout coasts
and in-curved rhetorical beaches
not baffle the onslaught
of the sea or objectionable people
and give private life
what small protection it's got?
Praise then the oiled motions
of avoidance, the pearly
convolutions of all that
slides off or takes a
wide berth; praise every
eddying vacancy of Earth,
all the dimpled depths
of pooling space, the whole
swirl set up by fending off—
extending far beyond the personal,
I'm convinced—
immense and good
in a cosmological sense:
unpressing us against
each other, lending
the necessary never
to never-ending.

"Least Action"
Is it vision
or the lack
that brings me
back to the principle
of least action,
by which in one
branch of rabbinical
thought the world
might become the
Kingdom of Peace not
through the tumult
and destruction necessary
for a New Start but
by adjusting little parts
a little bit—turning
a cup a quarter inch
or scooting up a bench.
It imagines an
incremental resurrection,
a radiant body
puzzled out through
tinkering with the fit
of what’s available.
As though what is is
right already but
askew. It is tempting
for any person who would
like to love what she
can do.

[And it kills me to link to The New Criterion, but they have one of my other favorites up here.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

kay ryan