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Leave it to the graceful Marie Ponsot, now in her late eighties, to view her life in poetry as easeful. As she tells us, pondering what stones can hear, "Between silence and sound / we are balancing darkness, / making light of it." In this celebratory collection, Ponsot makes light, in both senses, of all she touches, and her pleasure in offering these late poems is infectious. After more than a half century at her craft, she describes her poetic preferences unpretentiously thus: "no fruity phrases, just unspun / words trued right toward a nice / idea, for chaser. True's a risk. / Take it I say. Do true for fun."
Ponsot is accepting of what has come, whether it's a joyous memory of her second-grade teacher in a New York public school or the feeling of being "Orphaned Old," less lucky in life since her parents died. She holds herself to the highest standard: to see clearly, to think, to deal openhandedly and openheartedly with the world, to "Go to a wedding / as to a funeral: / bury the loss" and also to "Go to a funeral / as to a wedding: / marry the loss." She confides that she meets works of great art "expectant and thirsty."
Indeed, Ponsot's thirst for life and its best expression, for the sprightly phrase and the deeper understanding running beneath, makes this book a transformative experience. The wisdom and music of Easy, like all of Ponsot's poetry, will remain with her readers for decades to come.
& eat summer raw. I envy madame her unvarying knife cut; salami & bread drop in classic rounds. Prompt with Latin hosting courtesy, once she learns I am a foreigner we drink a wine, pale gold, drawn from the grapes of her Burgundy acre. She approves my raspberries, merely bought. The young debate among themselves in Dutch. Panicky, they don’t know where they are. She waits, then points (noting the asterisks on her up-to-date non-crack train schedule) to when they’ll arrive. They sigh
Iwo Jima flag boys? not there. Twin Towers first defenders? not there. My children are thank God not there any more or less than you and I are not there. I safe screen-watch. A youth young in his uniform signals his guard squad twice: OK go, to the tanks and the cameramen: OK go. The tank takes the house wall. The house genuflects. The tank proceeds. The house kneels. The roof dives. The woman howls. Dust rises. They cut to the next shot. The young men and the woman breathe the
dust of the house which now is its prayer. A dust cloud rises, at one with the prayer of all the kneeling houses asking to be answered and answerable anywhere. III THANK GERARD Cascade: rain torrential rain waterfalls down our stone facade. Our fields lately fire-parched now glossy cross the flat rise you ploughed earlier. The whole length of one sillion-streak gleams Gerard cut-stroke the sillion the gash we have in mind is your mind lifting muck-life turned sunstruck to each
vinegary window-washer; here’s the hopeful tidier-upper; please indicate where they should begin. Shouldering aside the praising critic, the painter explains, “Much to see but not much showing.” BLISS AND GRIEF No one is here right now. SKEPTIC for Helen DeMott, painter of waves “I watch the heaving moving of great waters. I read their surfaces. Motion patterns them. Water expresses the sea floor it is moved by. Language thinks us. Myth or mouth we migrants are its mystery. It’s
I sit belated, in the cabin section of the plane. I’m my observer. I maneuver to join my old self to its avant-garde, my eyes. Sight likes travel which likes fresh surprises. Self likes surprise that undoes old disguises. TESTING GARDENING In the garden I watch myself take care as if I were the garden. I even learn from experience! Slowly (fair is fair), I may grow less stupid and learn to turn error to advantage—though mistakes take years of uprooting seedlings sprung from seed