Those nights when someone held me in my sleep, when I no longer had to go to bed alone: they’ll come again. You’ll find me soon enough.

The Visit
Jane Kenyon

The talkative guest has gone,
and we sit in the yard
saying nothing. The slender moon
comes over the peak of the barn.

The air is damp, and dense
with the scent of honeysuckle…
The last clever story has been told
and answered with laughter.

With my sleeping self I met
my obligations, but now I am aware
of the silence, and your affection,
and the delicate sadness of dusk.

Furious to the point of tears. When was the last time I cried because I was so angry? Have you ever gone through that? I almost blacked out because of anger is not the same as nagdidilim ang paningin, and believe me, I was certainly there.

Once again life challenges my assumptions. I should have really, really learned these things by now: never make assumptions. I shouldn’t rely on anyone else to come to my defense. The only one who can really speak up for the things I’ve done is me, and if I let my emotions take over then I will always appear to be the sorriest shit there is because I can’t get my words straight. I’m good with the pen but I will never be as eloquent when I speak, thus, debate will incessantly be to my disadvantage unless I’ve prepared well beforehand, and only an idiot thinks he can predict whatever happens next every single time. I shouldn’t expect people to be as sensible as I am, and someone who is ignorant is more prone to irrational wrath when he doesn’t understand what is happening. No matter how much I try to explain how things are, one who has already made up his mind will never listen to reason; therefore to him I will always be wrong.

It is futile to argue with a person who believes with all his heart that he can’t make mistakes, and anyone who encourages this behavior will never get my respect. And if that is so, then there is no use arguing with that enabler either. I will just waste my energy. When half of the people in the room has decided with impunity that they will destroy you because you’re different, and the other half has stayed silent to save themselves, this is the reality: you are alone, and you must believe in yourself and be strong, and you must never turn your back on what you have done.  You’re brave, but not fearless, and you must remember the difference.

T., oh dear T., you come from a family with quick tempers, and you have spent your whole life trying to curb this…this defect. Slow to anger slow to anger slow to anger slow to anger slow to anger bury this in your goddamned mind. Now you are replete with misery; you have run the whole gamut of emotions in barely ten minutes. How can you recover from here?

Portrait of a Figure near Water
Jane Kenyon

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.

The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.

Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.

So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.

Happy, even if am swamped by deadlines. Smiling so much my face hurts!

The Shirt
Jane Kenyon

The shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes down below his belt—
down into his pants.
Lucky shirt.

I can’t sleep. I can’t remember the last time I was able to stop, breathe, and just enjoy the moment. To be — just be. To be just me. And be happy with that. So tonight, while I wait to fall asleep, this is what I’ll be doing. I am lying in bed, staring up the ceiling, summoning all the joy I have for being here, and for being me.

Otherwise
Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Thinking of windows.

Let Evening Come
Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Thinking about my pets. What would it feel like to be an animal, with a person whom you would give your life to protect and love?

The Blue Bowl
Jane Kenyon

Like primitives we buried the cat
with his bowl. Bare-handed
we scraped sand and gravel
back into the hole.
                    They fell with a hiss
and thud on his side,
on his long red fur, the white feathers
between his toes, and his
long, not to say aquiline, nose.

We stood and brushed each other off.
There are sorrows keener than these.

Silent the rest of the day, we worked,
ate, stared, and slept. It stormed
all night; now it clears, and a robin
burbles from a dripping bush
like the neighbor who means well
but always says the wrong thing.