Monday, June 11, 2012

The City In Which I Love You

    For whatever reason, I find it next to impossible to review poetry. I know what I like, but find that my best case I can make for liking it is simply reading it aloud to others. I liked Li-Young Lee's The City In Which I Love You a lot. And the best case I can make for it is this:
    Choose a quiet
    place, a ruins, a house no more
    a house,
    under whose stone archway I stood
    one day to duck the rain.

    The roofless floor, vertical
    studs, eight wood columns
    supporting nothing,
    two staircases careening to nowhere, all
    make it seem

    a sketch, notes to a house, a three-
    dimensional grid negotiating
    an idea
    receding into indefinite rain,

    or else that idea
    emerging, skeletal
    against the hammered sky, a
    human thing, scoured, seen clean
    through from here to an iron heaven.

    A place where things
    were said and done,
    there you can remember
    what you need to
    remember. Melancholy is useful. Bring yours.

    There are no neighbors to wonder
    who you are,
    what you might be doing
    walking there,
    stopping now and then

    to touch a crumbling brick
    or stand in a doorway
    framed by the day.
    No one has to know you
    think of another doorway

    that framed the rain or news of war
    depending on which way you faced.
    You think of sea-roads and earth-roads
    you traveled once, and always
    in the same direction: away.

    You think
    of a woman, a favorite
    dress, your father's old breasts
    the last time you saw him, his breath,
    brief, the leaf

    you've torn from a vine and which you hold now
    to your cheek like a train ticket
    or a piece of cloth, a little hand or blade-
    it all depends
    on the course of your memory.

    It's a place
    for those who own no place
    to correspond to ruins in the soul.
    It's mine.
    It's all yours.

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