Monday, August 19, 2013

Steven Heighton's poem "Invention"


Tell me the word, mother, if you know now,
The word known to all men.

Because she had watched seedlings grow
too often through double-panes of her storm

because pineneedles, honed by sunlight,
brushed the screen softly but
would not penetrate its mesh

she invented a garden
indoors, under a bay window,
filling it with herbs.

              Still, it was the word
for each plant she thought of first
on waking: tarragon,
ivy and lavender, sorrel, coriander,
rue.  The double names recited themselves
in her halfsleep: nightshade,
rattlegrass and goldenrod,
heart’s ease.
           And when she walked up the sunpaved hall
to her garden,
the lambent blossoms,
the slight wavering stalks that might have belonged
in a bird’s delicate skeleton

filled the room with a forest
of syllables, green
and speechless as a bird’s call—

tangible as first metaphor:


From Stalin's Carnival (Palimpsest Press 2013)
ISBN: 978-1-926794-14-3