river road path, north/south
Overcast and cooler. Feeling more like fall is coming. Breezy. Heard lots of shivering leaves, some roller skiers’ poles clicking and clacking. Got a “good morning!” and “have a great day!” from Mr. Morning! and a “Say hi to my wife!” from Dave, the Daily Walker. No rowers or views of the lake. Lots of voices — from runners and walkers — hovering in the air.
Scrolling through my Safari Reading List, I found two poems I had saved, both featuring ants:
The Sunset and the Purple-Flowered Tree/ Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
I talk to a screen who assures me everything is fine.
I am not broken. I am not depressed. I am simply
in touch with the material conditions of my life. It is
the end of the world, and it’s fine. People laugh
about this, self-soothing engines sputtering
through a nosedive. Not me. I’ve gone and lost my
sense of humor when I need it most. This is why I
speak smoke into a scene. I dance against language
and abandon verse halfway through, like a broken-
throated singer. I wander around the front yard,
pathless as a little ant at the tip of a curled-up
cactus. Birds flit in and out of shining branches.
A garden blooms large in my throat. Color and life
conspire against my idea of the world. I have to
laugh until I am crying, make an ocean to land
upon in this sea of flames. Here I am.
Another late-winter afternoon,
the sunset and the purple-flowered tree
trying their best to keep me alive.
With Ant and Celan/ Eamon Grennan
This tiniest mite of an ant, no bigger
than a full stop, is making its careful
way across a poem by Celan and
stopping to inspect with its ant
feelers (can it smell or see? is all in
the idiom of touch?) each curve of
each letter, knowing nothing of the
mill of thinking that ground into it,
into each resonant syllable of each
word. The ant stops on Sprache and
sniffs at its ins and outs, its blank
whites and curlicues of black, then
moves on to the next word, Sprache,
and busies itself with its own ant-
brand of understanding; but finding
nothing of what it seeks it moves to
the blank margin of nothing more,
stumbles over the edge of the page
and I have to imagine it is saying (if
that’s the word) to itself something
that translated means No food.
Nothing here . . . And so now, gone
back into its own weird world of
stones and weeds and grass and sun-
shadows, it is lost to me as I go back
into the dark wood of Celan’s poem—
a world of words I feel my diligent
way through, sniffing at its tangle of
branches, its brief sun-flower flashes:
Language, language, it will sing in
translation: Partner-Star . . . Earth-
Neighbor. Poorer. Open . . . Then:
Homelike. Homely. Homelandlike.
Heimatlich. And so I take its final
word to heart, the way that most
minuscule creature might take back
to its own earth-burrow a seed, a
scrap of anything either edible or
useful, anything it could translate to
nourishment, and live a little with it.
I have posted several poems by Eamon Grennan before. Such beautiful poetry! Here’s a link to more poems, read by the author.