Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Small Talk

I loved today's poem on the Writer's Almanac, by Bronx-born poet Eleanor Lerman.   It seems to me a good poem for the birthday of Our Lady.

It is a mild day in the suburbs

Windy, a little gray. If there is
sunlight, it enters through the
kitchen window and spreads
itself, thin as a napkin, beside
the coffee cup, pie on a plate

What am I describing?
I am describing a dream
in which nobody has died

These are our mothers:
your mother and mine
It is an empty day; everyone
else is gone. Our mothers
are sitting in red chairs
that look like metal hearts
and they are smoking
Your mother is wearing
sandals and a skirt. My
mother is thinking about
dinner. The bread, the meat

Later, there will be
no reason to remember
this, so remember it
now: a safe day. Time
passes into dim history.

And we are their babies
sleeping in the folds of
the wind. Whatever our
chances, these are the
women. Such small talk
before life begins

-- "Small Talk," by Eleanor Lerman, from The Sensual World Re-emerges. © Sarabande Books, 2010.

Above:  "Red Kimono on the Roof" by John Sloan (1912).


Anonymous said...

That is so beautiful - I'm afraid I've quickly become dependent on you for this kind of thing. Thanks for the supply, it has been a gift.

Pentimento said...

Yikes, now I'm afraid I might disappoint you some time . . . ;)

You're most welcome, Cottage Child!

mrsdarwin said...

Later, there will be
no reason to remember
this, so remember it
now: a safe day. Time
passes into dim history.


Enbrethiliel said...


Not to put any more pressure on you, Pentimento, but virtually the only poetry I ever read these days is what you post on your blog. I'm not the sort of person to seek out poems or subscribe to a Poem of the Day, because they seem to me like letters or postcards written to other people, which I never really have the wit to appreciate. But when you share a poem and say what it means to you, it means something to me, too.

On my own, I never would have made the connection between Our Lady's birthday and this poem. But now, yes, I do see it and think it lovely.

Pentimento said...

I'm happy to share the love, Enbrethiliel.

I've been told that the reason that opera aficionados love particular voices -- Maria Callas, say, or Monserrat Caballé -- is that they feel deeply that the voice they love is the substitute for their own voice, that it is the proxy voice of their own soul. This is how I feel about the poetry that I love. I wish I could write some myself.

lissla lissar said...

Oh, that's beautiful.

Pentimento said...

Isn't it, Lissla? I hope I can remember to notice that every mundane day also has this kind of luminosity and transcendence.

marie therese 1 said...

Thanks, this poignant poem has touched my heart since this weekend is the second anniversary of losing my mother. Bless you, Mary

Karen E. said...

I love this poem -- I've never seen it before. Thank you.