if any, repose in grass this Junedried wheat tufts suggest autumn.Illusion of time: the view towards towntwenty years ago the same, one thinks,the viewer changed but held, closeto hope, still doubting that green is onlymade in the retina. My son paints Winsor's Green(Light) on Strathmore paper because it isthat way, and the world less doubtfulthan one's thought of it—withoutwhich it isn't . . . says who? Consciousnessis cellular, says Teilhard, in caseone should forget to bid the swatted cockroachto become buddha. Aggression won'tsupply green. And could photosynthesisproduce ink for the poet's randomness whichhardly frames art, that neurosis skewingacceptance? Getting old? Well, resistthat thought as a reflex fed by newsprint.But the physical transfixes an internalmetaphysical fear: sooner to dierather than later, as this cinquefoil's brightyellow fades, and the chickadeewho sits on my boot-tip is surely not last year's.Some fat chipmunk, however, stealsbirdseed from the finches, and no interveninghelps. Five droplets out of an overheadcloudpuff threaten this page unpreventablyas the helpless face of any womancrossing 23rd street at Second Avenueto think a boon might come from bodiesof students shot in Tiananmen Square. Logicwon't de-corrupt governments, exceptwhere a word properly lodges its depthin the fluidity of things, which have a wayof constancy in greens of varyinggrays—Payne's Light, for instance, for rocksthat stay mostly unseen, and yet crop outholding landscape, or land-thoughtresembling it, enough to wake you, caught outin metaphysical blur—self-doubt, as ifgood were invisible. Wake you to get up and walk.
“Metaphysics” from ARBOR VITAE: by Jane Augustine.
Published by Marsh Hawk Press January 1st, 2003.
Copyright © 2002 by Jane Augustine.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jane Augustine is a poet, critic, short story writer, visual/sound poetry performance artist and scholar of women in modernity. Born in Berkeley, California, in 1931, she published her first poems in the Berkeley Daily Gazette at age seven, and, in more recent years, six books of poetry, the latest High Desert from Dos Madres Press (2019), all collected in this volume. Editor of The Mystery by H.D. (2009) and The Gift by H.D.: The Complete Text (1998; reissued pb 2021) she is also the author of numerous essays on modern and contemporary poets including H.D., Mina Loy, Lorine Niedecker, William Bronk and Robert Duncan. She has twice been awarded Fellowships in Poetry from the New York State Council on the Arts and has held the H.D. Fellowship at Beinecke Library, Yale University. She has taught at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York University and The New School in New York City, and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She lives with her husband, the poet and critic Michael Heller, in Manhattan and Westcliffe, Colorado.
"A book of a woman’s life-journey written with the intensities and intimacies of a haunted mindfulness, this allegorical trek seeks to name the essential amid the multiplying circumstances of selfhood, family intersections, pain, yearning and finite time. A poignant book of all the places and emotions that 'leaving we will never leave.'"
—Rachel Blau DuPlessis on A Woman’s Guide to Mountain Climbing
"Elegiac, lyrical and passionately connected to the flow and ebb of the phenomenal world, Night Lights uplifts our poetry gaze. 'Now just this: the earth not in the sun’s way/ A perfect ivory mirror reflects the eye/opening/ . . .' Jane Augustine’s investigative eye is to be trusted and applauded."
—Anne Waldman on Night Lights