The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.
Magnus Plessen, Figure holding light, 2001. Oil on three pieces of paper, MoMA.
Distance and a Certain Light
by May Swenson
and a certain light
makes anything artistic—
it doesn’t matter what.
From an airplane, all
that rigid splatter of the Bronx
becomes organic, logical
as web or beehive. Chunks
of decayed cars in junkyards,
garbage scows (nimble roaches
on the Harlem), herds of stalled
manure-yellow boxes on twisting reaches
of rails, are punched clean and sharp
as ingots in the ignition of the sun.
Rubbish becomes engaging shape—
you only have to get a bead on it,
the right light filling the corridor
of your view—a gob of spit
under a microscope, fastidious
in structure as a crystal. No contortion
without intention, and nothing ugly.
In any random, sprawling, decomposing thing
is the charming string
of its history—and what it will be next.
“Distance and a Certain Light” by May Swenson, from Collected Poems.
Robert Adams, East from Flagstaff Mountain, Boulder County, Colorado, 1976. Gelatin silver print. MoMA.
by Kay Ryan
wider than one
natives in their
a place with
its own harvests.
Or that in
distinguished from the genuine
“Patience,” by Kay Ryan, from Say Uncle.
cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Some Glad Morning
by Joyce Sutphen
One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.
The clouds took up their
positions in the deep stadium
of the sky, gloving the
bright orb of the sun
before they pitched it
over the horizon.
It was as good as ever:
the air was filled
with the scent of lilacs
and cherry blossoms
sounded their long
whistle down the track
It was some glad morning.
“Some Glad Morning,” by Joyce Sutphen, from Naming the Stars.
Ogden M. Pleissner, Backyards, Brooklyn, 1932. Oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum.
from Twenty-One Love Poems
By Adrienne Rich
No one’s fated or doomed to love anyone.
The accidents happen, we’re not heroines,
they happen in our lives like car crashes,
books that change us, neighborhoods
we move into and come to love.
Tristan und Isolde is scarcely the story,
women at least should know the difference
between love and death. No poison cup,
no penance. Merely a notion that the tape-recorder
should have caught some ghost of us: that tape-recorder
not merely played but should have listened to us,
and could instruct those after us:
this we were, this is how we tried to love,
and these are the forces they had ranged against us,
and these are the forces we had ranged within us,
within us and against us, against us and within us.
from “Twenty-One Love Poems” by Adrienne Rich, from The Dream of a Common Language
Textile with Animals, Birds, and Flowers, Eastern Central Asia, late 12th–14th century. Silk embroidery on plain-weave silk, Metropolitan Museum.
by Rainer Maria Rilke
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth—
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.
“I, 17″ by Ranier Maria Rilke from Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
a bit about the object
This textile demonstrates the longevity of motifs in eastern Central Asia. The placement of animals—a spotted horse, a rabbit, and two deer (or antelope)—at its cardinal points is a compositional device that began to appear in the region during the Han dynasty. The birds on the piece, especially the parrot, entered the Central Asian repertoire during a second period of strong Chinese influence, the Tang dynasty. The floral background’s central motif of lotus blossoms, a lotus leaf, and a trefoil leaf was seen in Central Asia and North China but became widespread during the Yuan dynasty.