Sunday, November 25, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This lovely piece is by Pulitzer Prize winner, Carl Dennis from his collection, "New and Selected poems; 1974-2004"


In the fading photograph of the pleasure boat
The pleasure-seekers, dressed in their Sunday best,
Crowd all three decks, women in sun hats
Pausing to chat with bearded men in derbies
Who lean on the rail, listening to the band.

On shore, the quiet farms slide by.  Here and there
A cluster of low houses, a river town.  The sun
Shines overhead.  Everyone looks willing to be interested,
Pointing to the inlets and islands, recalling their names,
Though many have boarded the boat nudged by a friend,
By a promise to a child, though the children are already lost,
Crying with their dolls in the passageways.

It's only because they're long dead
That they all look sad.  But some must be happy.
Some must refuse to envy the boats in front
Or look back on the boats behind and sigh.
The ride is no empty promise to them
of a better ride to come, and no omen of a worse.
Whatever they expected to be shown is here.

Whatever lies behind the water, the sun, the air,
The uniforms of the band, is too imperfect to be be seen,
Unfinished, still composing its face in the dark,
Waiting, as this moment waited, below deck
Till the Sunday comes when it's ready to appear.

1 comment:

Alon Perlman said...

Carl Dennis
Practical gods of the river glide through the past imperfect
In these thinnest of pages, the gossamer of binary web thread; not the first time we hear ruminations on the expectations of flat faces trapped in sepia.
And what be of these long past dead pleasure seekers into whose captured lives we intrude?
So what will happen to this assembled flotilla, this Sunday stroll mini Britannica of evaporated souls?
will some horrible “later the same Sunday” ominously laying in fate capsizer render their company asunder, or will they corral and rustle and crinkle to disembark the same way they embarked,
Banging down the gang plank, to disperse and dissolve and dilute the collected sun’s sparkle into a following gray mundane Monday, only to again reassemble on some future Sabbath, for another time marking solemn ritual?
And if then a darker fate awaits them, is it for the sin of unremembered mendacity, for the guilty gift of forgetfulness, or for not heeding the articulated admonition of Marcus Aurelius,
Or is it ours, that lesson; That it’s never too late to reconsider your fate.

A parlor trick; for when you are back from your Sunday stroll, click on “Carl Dennis” below, to see what was foretold.
And for a larger more sweeping slight of the poet’s splayed hand, knock right through this webbed portal placed at your knuckles' command.