We are honored and delighted to welcome Brenda Hillman back to Open Books, where this afternoon she’ll be reading from Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire ($22.95 Wesleyan). This volume completes her amazing tetralogy of meditations on the elements, which began with Cascadia in 2001 and continued with Pieces of Air in the Epic in 2005 and Practical Water in 2009. These are powerful works, deeply engaged with the world of the present and the distant past, inventive in form and thought, and complexly pleasurable to experience both on the page and in the air. This will be a special afternoon.
“Between the Souls & the Meteors”
The ancestors turn in the sycamore,
leaves like hunched-over squirrels.
A freeze might take the lemon tree.
That thing of dozing “over a book,”
the writer just godpowder now.
Miles up, sparks dragged through
meteors; miles down,
creatures eat rock mixed with fire—
Someone prays for you
even if you don’t like it. Our suicides
sleep in the mind of a word.
We want our mother
not to have suffered. Moonbeams
snake where the tanoak shivers.
We want our father
not to have suffered, or the three cats,
sprinkled with western dawn—
The little baby sleeps on his side,
his dream face turned to the woods;
a fox sleeps with its mouth of color;
& the O in your head, the damaged vowel,
where the skin rises to meet the wound,
what does that spell?
—i don’t know, i don’t know
(since it got to go on living) but
seems like basically it’s kind of
a combination: everything
means everything plus
there is no hidden meaning—