Sunday, July 16, 2006

If You Need A Good Reason To Here's One

Something like twenty years ago I picked up a used paperback collection of poetry called "The Contemporary American Poets, American Poetry Since 1940," edited by Mark Strand and published originally in 1969.

The price on the cover of this little "A Mentor Book" tome was $1.50, but pencilled on the inside first page was the price I paid: 55 cents. Roethke, Ashbery, Simic, Plath, Dickey, Kinnell... the rogues gallery of mid-century American poets, all very good.

Among the masterworks presented Strand included one work of his own, which is one of the best in the entire collection:

Keeping Things Whole

By Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

"Keeping Things Whole" from Selected Poems by Mark Strand. Copyright © 1980 by Mark Strand.

Tranquil and brilliant. It's one I go back to.

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