Day 24

Brenda Hillman

from Metaphor & Simile: 24 journal poems at year’s end

                            The feeling is the lining of the dream.                                                    Each                day as a making &    unmaking,                        each                person loving & failing,the hope                                 each                day that having to live    in this dim                                                   country will seem betterat some point &                 each                body of each person       will have a right…                                    the little boy & ~i~walked with our lichen bag; he out-walked    the sadness of his parents, ~i~ out-walked    the facts… Feeling basically all rightis a privilege few can afford. Our neighborhood sofull of plastic crap on Xmas eve, lights upin early dusk… but there’s an appealing multiglow.Trace in the mind, Pound said…    & always the counter-thought, the dialectical    paradox in each event, history unfolding,—the neighbors had put out their tacky 50s crèche,    donkeys & sheep, plaster baby Jesus inthe plaster manger… Look at this, Baba,  Leon said, standing a long timewith his bag of lichen, Day 24 imageunrejected & beside. Maybe the child Jesus    just felt electrical like Whitman did,  pushing what light he had out of his hands,maybe ordinary light, We just don’t know…Man of constant sorrow. There are no reportsof him laughing, except in gnostic texts.Murdered by the State for loving criminals.Where did he get the idea. Is & as…the world in all its forms—

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Brenda Hillman has published nine collections of poetry, all with Wesleyan University Press, including Practical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. Her most recent book, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, received the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Hillman is also an editor, translator, and activist for social, economic, and environmental justice. She serves as the Olivia C. Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California. blueflowerarts.com/artist/brenda-hillman

Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. By turns plain and transcendent, these poems meditate on trees, bacteria, wasps, buildings, roots, and stars, ending with twinned elegies and poems of praise that open into spaces that are both magical and archetypal for human imagination: forests and seashores. As always, Hillman’s vision is entirely original, her forms inventive and playful. At times the language turns feral as the poet feels her way toward other consciousnesses, into planetary time. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance.

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