Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Mistral II

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Mistral II

Article excerpt

I gave myself to the mistral, which had shouldered its way

down from the north, leaping the careful fields of France,

skimming the Alps, running the flat of its hand along the Rhone

to careen over this stretch of ultramarine and ancient sea

and seize the page out from under my pen.

The high eucalyptus shudder and surge,

the bamboo grove flashes its knives, yesterday's poem flies off:

we will all be changed in the quiet garden.

I have broken some forms, I am waiting to see

what survives this tumult of leaves

and cloudlight, what the sea will whip up from its jagged troughs

when spray shatters against the downward slicing veins of schist

and the hills bracing the valley wuther and groan.

The garden stays pegged to earth with its round metal tables

of pea-soup green, and its fan-patterns raked in tawny dirt,

and I stay pegged to the garden chair, but it was I who prayed

yesterday to make this refuge cry with a different breath,

hoping some new word would be snatched up out of my throat-

Its salt tang could be from sea wind, could be from tears. …

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