Page 18 - WTP VOl. IX #1
P. 18

Robert B. Shaw
Up too early the morning after a night
of widely scattered sleep, just barely awake,
I skimmed a bookdealer’s latest catalogue
offering vintage volumes of poetry,
some of them autographed. Beneath one title
by someone I once knew, my tired eyes halted
partway through the description, snagged by the words “small tears.” Well, yes, I thought, that’s a fair enough way to define the mood of this maker’s work:
the effects of loss, of yearnings unfulfilled
encoded in still ponds and withered leaves,
subdued regrets summed up in misty landscapes.
No blatancy, no histrionic keening,
just a dignified undertone of sadness,
a Virgilian tinge. Then I finished my tea,
and looked more closely at the page and realized
the words referred to rips in the dust jacket.
I know: a stupid way to begin the day.
Still, was my misreading all that misleading?
Think of the small tears (rhyming with years) distilled into those pensive lines. Think of the small tears (rhyming with cares) that aging will instigate, insidious fissures in the once unmarred
jacket, beckoning dust to find its way in.
I should remember not to read at breakfast,
given there’s all the time in the world to note
how persuasively these two manage to blur together—the tears of things, the tears in things.
Shaw is the author of seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is A Late Spring, and After (Pinyon Publishing). His other publications in- clude Blank Verse: A History and Guide to Its Use (Ohio University Press). He taught in English Departments at Harvard, Yale, and, for thirty-three years, Mount Holyoke College, retiring in 2016 as the Emily Dickinson Professor of English Emeritus.

   16   17   18   19   20