Anne Carson - Poetry, Essays, Opera


D E S P I T E   H E R   P A I N,   A N O T H E R   D A Y

River fogs (7 am) stray and begin, shiver and begin
on the September mill rocks.
Bits of leaf mirror along. I have arrived at my sanity.
Evidence (7 pm): while she medicates I walk by the river.
Millwheel smells like wet cornhusk.
On my back (2.38 am) in the dark at Dorset Motel I listen to the radiator click
and to her, awake on the other side of town
in the hot small room
gripping a glow-in-the-dark rosary.
Whatever they say about time, life only moves in one direction,
that’s a fact, mirroring along.
River fogs (7 am) go flayed and silvery
when it dawns dark
on the day I leave.
DANGER DO NOT DROP OR DRAG ANCHOR
reads a sign just off the selvedges.
Mindingness gulps us.
Her on the bed as bent twigs.
Me, as ever, gone.





D E C R E A T I O N

P o e t r y,  E s s a y s ,  O p e r a

Anne Carson


“I love a poetical kinde of a march, by friskes, skips and jumps.”
-Florio’s 1603 translation of Montaigne’s
“Essay on Some Verses of Virgil”


STOPS


S L E E P C H A I N S

Who can sleep when she-
hundreds of miles away I feel that vast breath
fan her restless decks.
Cicatrice by cicatrice
all the links
rattle once.
Here we go mother on the shipless ocean.
Pity us, pity the ocean, here we go.



S U N D AY

My washed rags flap on a serious grey sunset.
Suppertime, a colder wind.
Leaves huddle a bit.
Kitchen lights come on.
Little spongy mysteries of evening begin to nick open.
Time to call mother.
Let it ring.
Six.
Seven.
Eight-she
lifts the receiver, waits.
Down the hollow distances are they fieldmice that scamper so drily.





L I N E S

While talking to my mother I neaten things. Spines of books by the phone.
Paperclips
in a china dish. Fragments of eraser that dot the desk. She speaks
longingly
of death. I begin tilting all the paperclips in the other direction.
Out
the window snow is falling straight down in lines. To my mother,
love
of my life, I describe what I had for brunch. The lines are falling
faster
now. Fate has put little weights on the ends (to speed us up) I
want
to tell her-sign of God’s pity. She won’t keep me
she says, she
won’t run up my bill.Miracles slip past us. The
paperclips
are immortally aligned. God’s pity! How long
will
it feel like burning, said the child trying to be
kind.





O U R   F O R T U N E

In a house at dusk a mother’s final lesson
ruins the west and seals up all that trade.
Look in the windows at night you will see people standing.
That’s us, we had an excuse to be inside.
Day came, we cut the fruit (we cut
the tree). Now we’re out.
Here is a debt
paid.




N O  P O R T  N OW

In the ancient struggle of breath against death, one more sleep given.
We took an offer on the house.
In the sum of the parts
where are the parts?
Silently (there) leaves and windows wait.
Our empty clothesline cuts the sloping night.
And making their lament for a lost apparel of celestial light
angels and detritus call out as they flow past our still latched gate.





W O U L D   B E   H E R   5 0 T H   W E D D I N G
A N N I V E R S A R Y   T O   D AY

Cold orates upon a Roman wall.
Light is extreme (caught)
and shadows wait like
hoods to drop.
Brain taps
twice
for salt.

Was it Ovid who said, There is so much wind here stones go blank.






S O M E   A F T E R N O O N S   S H E   D O E S   N O T
P I C K   U P   T H E   P H O N E

It is February. Ice is general. One notices different degrees of ice.
Its colours-blue white brown greyblack silver-vary.
Some ice has core bits of gravel or shadows inside.
Some is smooth as a flank, you cannot stand on it.
Standing on it the wind goes thin, to shreds.
All we wished for, shreds.
The little ones cannot stand on it.
Not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, can stand.
Blindingly-what came through the world there-burns.
It is February. Ice is general. One notices different degrees of ice.






T H A T   S T R E N G T H

That strength, mother: dug out.Hammered, chained,
blacked, cracked, weeping, sweeping, tossed on its
groans, hammered, hammering snouts
off death. Bolted and damming,
dolloped and biting. Knife. Unbloodable
on grindbones
that strength, mother,
stopped.







M E T H I N K S   T H E   P O O R   T OW N   H A S   B E E N
T R O U B L E D   T O O   L O N G

Light on brick walls and a north wind whipping the branches black.
Shadow draws the gut of the light out dry against its palm.
Eat your soup, mother, wherever you are in your mind.
Winter noon is on the rise.Weak suns yet alive
are as virtue to suns of that other day.
For the poor town dreams
of surrender, mother
never untender,
mother gallant
and gay.







D E S P I T E   H E R   P A I N,   A N O T H E R   D AY

River fogs (7 am) stray and begin, shiver and begin
on the September mill rocks.
Bits of leaf mirror along. I have arrived at my sanity.
Evidence (7 pm): while she medicates I walk by the river.
Millwheel smells like wet cornhusk.
On my back (2.38 am) in the dark at Dorset Motel I listen to the radiator click
and to her, awake on the other side of town
in the hot small room
gripping a glow-in-the-dark rosary.
Whatever they say about time, life only moves in one direction,
that’s a fact, mirroring along.
River fogs (7 am) go flayed and silvery
when it dawns dark
on the day I leave.
DANGER DO NOT DROP OR DRAG ANCHOR
reads a sign just off the selvedges.
Mindingness gulps us.
Her on the bed as bent twigs.
Me, as ever, gone.







N O T H I N G   F O R   I T

Your glassy wind breaks on a shoutless shore and stirs around the rose.
Lo how
before a great snow,
before the gliding emptiness of the night coming on us,
our lanterns throw
shapes of old companions
and
a cold pause after.
What knife skinned off
that hour.
Sank the buoys.
Blows on what was our house.
Nothing for it just row.








H E R   B E C K E T T

Going to visit my mother is like starting in on a piece by Beckett.
                                  You know that sense of sinking through crust,
the low black oh no of the little room
with walls too close, so knowable.
Clink and slow fade of toys that belong in memory
but wrongly appear here, vagrant and suffocated
                                                                             on a page of pain.
                                                                                       Worse
                                                                           she says when I ask,
                           even as (was it April?) some high humour grazes her eye-
“we went out rowing on Lake Como”
not quite reaching the lip.
                Our love, that halfmad firebrand,
                             races once around the room
                                                 whipping everything
                                                                            and hides again.






B E C K E T T ’ S   T H E O R Y   O F   T R A G E D Y

Hegel on sacrifice. The animal dies. The man becomes alert.
What do we learn we learn to notice everything now.
We learn to say he is a hero let him do it.
O is shown moving to the window.
What a rustling what an evening. Oh little actor
(living moving mourning lamenting and howling incessantly)
time to fly back to where they keep your skin.
Frail was it.
Sound of oars drawing away from shore.
That tang of dogshit in darkness.
That's your starry crown.
Off with his hood.






B E C K E T T ’ S   T H E O R Y   O F   C O M E D Y

Picking gooseberries, she said.
O is shown moving to the window.
Should traps be not available.
Or they kneel throughout the play.
That lifelong adorer!
Same old coat.
No verticals, all scattered and lying.
Tomorrow noon?
Goes back up the path, no sign of you.


[Pause.]






E V E R Y  E X I T  I S  A N  E N T R A N C E
( A  P r a i s e  o f  S l e e p )

















Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera

In her first collection in five years, Anne Carson contemplates “decreation”–an activity described by Simone Weil as “undoing the creature in us”–an undoing of self. But how can we undo self without moving through self, to the very inside of its definition? Where else can we start? Anne Carson’s Decreation starts with form–the undoing of form. Form is various here: opera libretto, screenplay, poem, oratorio, essay, shot list, rapture. The undoing is tender, but tenderness can change everything, or so the author appears to believe. From the Hardcover edition.