Moon from the Porch
By Annie Finch b. 1956
Moon has dusks for walls,
October’s days for a floor,
crickets for rooms, windy halls.
Only one night is her door.
When I was thirteen she found me,
spiralled into my blood like a hive.
I stood on a porch where she wound me
for the first time, tight and alive,
till my body flooded to find her:
to know I would not be alone
as I moved through the tides that don't bind her
into womanhood, like a flung stone.
With each curve that waxed into fullness
I grew to her, ready and wild.
I filled myself up like her priestess.
I emptied myself like her child.
Flooding, ready, and certain,
I hid her—full, fallow, or frail—
beneath each long summer's rich curtain.
It covered her face—the thin grail
that delivers me now. Now I’m with her.
All cast shadows come home.
I stand in these shadows to kiss her;
I spin in her cool, calming storm.
Now as I move through my own beauty
and my shadow grows deeper than blood,
oh triple, oh goddess, sustain me
with your light’s simple opening hood.
Sonnet CXXX: My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing like the Sun
By William Shakespeare 1564–1616
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
By Kathleen Jamie b. 1962
Last night, when the moon
slipped into my attic room
as an oblong of light,
I sensed she’d come to commiserate.
It was August. She traveled
with a small valise
of darkness, and the first few stars
returning to the northern sky,
and my room, it seemed,
had missed her. She pretended
an interest in the bookcase
while other objects
stirred, as in a rock pool,
with unexpected life:
strings of beads in their green bowl gleamed,
the paper-crowded desk;
the books, too, appeared inclined
to open and confess.
Being sure the moon
harbored some intention,
I waited; watched for an age
her cool gaze shift
first toward a flower sketch
pinned on the far wall
then glide down to recline
along the pinewood floor,
before I’d had enough. Moon,
I said, We’re both scarred now.
Are they quite beyond you,
the simple words of love? Say them.
You are not my mother;
with my mother, I waited unto death.
THE SUN RISING
by John Donne
BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."
She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.
Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne
By Billy Collins b. 1941
Every reader loves the way he tells off
the sun, shouting busy old fool
into the English skies even though they
were likely cloudy on that seventeenth-century morning.
And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day
pacing the carpet and repeating the words,
feeling the syllables lock into rows
until I can stand and declare,
the book held closed by my side,
that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.
But after a few steps into stanza number two,
wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes,
I can feel the first one begin to fade
like sky-written letters on a windy day.
And by the time I have taken in the third,
the second is likewise gone, a blown-out candle now,
a wavering line of acrid smoke.
So it’s not until I leave the house
and walk three times around this hidden lake
that the poem begins to show
any interest in walking by my side.
Then, after my circling,
better than the courteous dominion
of her being all states and him all princes,
better than love’s power to shrink
the wide world to the size of a bedchamber,
and better even than the compression
of all that into the rooms of these three stanzas
is how, after hours stepping up and down the poem,
testing the plank of every line,
it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within.