The Widow’s Lament in Springtime
By William Carlos Williams
Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.
I would, when I compose my solemn verse,
Sleep near the heaven as do astrologers,
Near the high bells, and with a dreaming mind
Hear their calm hymns blown to me on the wind.
Out of my tower, with chin upon my hands,
I’ll watch the singing, babbling human bands;
And see clock-towers like spars against the sky,
And heavens that bring thoughts of eternity;
And softly, through the mist, will watch the birth
Of stars in heaven and lamplight on the earth;
The threads of smoke that rise above the town;
The moon that pours her pale enchantment down.
Seasons will pass till Autumn fades the rose;
And when comes Winter with his weary snows,
I’ll shut the doors and window-casements tight,
And build my faery palace in the night.
Then I will dream of blue horizons deep;
Of gardens where the marble fountains weep;
Of kisses, and of ever-singing birds–
A sinless Idyll built of innocent words.
And Trouble, knocking at my window-pane
And at my closet door, shall knock in vain;
I will not heed him with his stealthy tread,
Nor from my reverie uplift my head;
For I will plunge deep in the pleasure still
Of summoning the spring-time with my will,
Drawing the sun out of my heart, and there
With burning thoughts making a summer air.
-translated by F.P. Sturm
BY DORIANNE LAUX
The slate black sky. The middle step
of the back porch. And long ago
my mother’s necklace, the beads
rolling north and south. Broken
the rose stem, water into drops, glass
knobs on the bedroom door. Last summer’s
pot of parsley and mint, white roots
shooting like streamers through the cracks.
Years ago the cat’s tail, the bird bath,
the car hood’s rusted latch. Broken
little finger on my right hand at birth—
I was pulled out too fast. What hasn’t
been rent, divided, split? Broken
the days into nights, the night sky
into stars, the stars into patterns
I make up as I trace them
with a broken-off blade
of grass. Possible, unthinkable,
the cricket’s tiny back as I lie
on the lawn in the dark, my heart
a blue cup fallen from someone’s hands.