Speak plainly, said November to the maples, say what you mean now, nowthat summer’s lush declensions lie like the lies they were at your feet. Haven’twe praised you? Haven’t we summer after summer put our faith in augmentation.But look at these leavings of not-enough-light: it’s time for sterner counsel now.It’s time, we know you’re good at this, we’ve seen the way your branchedarticulations keep faith with the whole, it’s time to call us back to order beforewe altogether lose our way. Speak brightly, said the cold months, speakwith a mouth of snow. The scaffolding is clear now, we thank you, the mooncan measure its course by you. Instruct us, while the divisions of lightare starkest, before the murmurs of con- solation resume, instruct us inthe harder course of mindfulness. Speak truly, said April. Not justwhat you think we’re hoping to hear, speak so we believe you.The child who learned perspective from the stand of you, near and nearer,knowing you were permanent, is counting the years to extinction now. Teach herto teach us the disciplines of do-less-harm. We’re capable of learning, We've glimpsedthe bright intelligence that courses through the body that contains us. De +cidere, say the maples, has another face. It also means decide.
“Deciduous” from CANOPY: by Linda Gregerson.
Published by Ecco Press on March 22, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Linda Gregerson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Linda Gregerson is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently of Canopy (Ecco/HarperCollins 2022). She has also published two critical monographs and numerous essays on early modern English and contemporary American poetry. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Gregerson is the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She divides her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and London.
"A long-awaited yet startlingly urgent new collection from “a contemporary master”—a fierce, big-hearted eye on our last, tumultuous decade, and our fragile environment."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"We might ask: what kind of looking is required if we are to see accurately that beguiling blend of devastation and grace that seems, each day, to hem us in? Although such a question might prove to be, in the end, unanswerable, an answer — or, at least, the start of one — arrives in the pages of Canopy."
—On The Seawall
"Linda Gregerson’s capacious, discursive new poems, often in wiry, wiley sequences, track the chaos of the last several years, cataloging, calling out, searching for connection if not consolation. The stricken environment itself cries out in her poems; Gregerson names the many inequities that have shaped the Covid pandemic ('if half/ the workers at Tyson meats come down with the virus we still/ have a plan for protecting the owners from lawsuits'). Nonetheless, this poet finds much to love about the world: 'I’m here to praise."
—Craig Morgan Teicher, poet and critic, author of Welcome to Sonnetville, New Jersey