Seasonal Whispers

Poetry by Jared Carter

 What is that calling on the wind
           that never seems a moment still?
 That moves in darkness like a hand
           of many fingers taken chill?
 What is it seeking when it flows
           about my head, and seems to wrest
 All motion from my heart, as though
           I still had something to confess?
 How can it be it knows my crime –
           this troubled whistling in the air?
 'Tis true, I left her long behind,
           but this is dark, and she was fair.
 (First published in The New Formalist)
 At every hand there are moments we
 cannot quite grasp or understand. Free
 to decide, to interpret, we watch rain
 streaking down the window, the drain
 emptying, leaves blown by a cold wind.
 At least we sense a continuity in
 such falling away. But not with snow.
 It is forgetfulness, what does not know,
 has nothing to remember in the first place.
 Its purpose is to cover, to leave no trace
 of anything. Whatever was there before – 
 the worn broom leaned against the door
 and almost buried now, the pile of brick,
 the bushel basket filling up with thick,
 gathering whiteness, half sunk in a drift – 
 all these things are lost in the slow sift
 of the snow's falling. Now someone asks
 if you can remember – such a simple task –
 the time before you were born. Of course
 you cannot, nor can I. Snow is the horse
 that would never dream of running away,
 that plods on, pulling the empty sleigh
 while the tracks behind it fill, and soon
 everything is smooth again. No moon,
 no stars, to guide your way. No light.
 Climb up, get in. Be drawn into the night.
 (First published in A Dance in the Street)
 School of Ragtime, Exercise No. 6
 Saw you first one April day
           king, queen, sun, moon
 Whistled you outside to play
           right, left, fork, spoon
 Took you down to the river’s edge
           penny candy, paper doll
 Showed you bullheads under the ledge
           butterfingers, jackstone ball
 Say goodbye to your last dime
           up, down, cat, dog
 Gonna rag that tune this time
           leaf, tree, axe, log
 (First published in The Devil's Millhopper) 

Jared Carter’s most recent collection, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in West Virginia. His Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems, with an introduction by Ted Kooser, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2014. A recipient of several literary awards and fellowships, Carter is from the state of Indiana in the U.S.



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