The Heaven-Sent Leaf
The speculation of contemporary life.
The teeming green of utterance.
To feel this clean,
There is, in the heart, the hard-rendering profit.
As if we were plucking the leaves from the trees.
Let us think of the soft verdure of the spirit of this age as now inside
of us and swollen by spring rain.
To imagine oneself as a river.
To imagine oneself as a stretch of cool water,
Pouring into a basin or brain.
And if one knows one is not free?
One crawls from the back of the head to the river
And places one’s pinkie oh so cautiously in.
Through reading various other American poets the past few years, and developing my prose, I’ve been more and more interested in the possibilities of the straight line (whether actually straight or deceptively so). Thanks to a recent visit by Lea Graham, I’ve been going through Brooklyn, New York poet Katy Lederer’s most recent collection, The Heaven-Sent Leaf (Rochester NY: BOA Editions, 2008).
Against the Gate
Before the bell tolls,
She must run.
Through garden plot and broken gate.
Against the gate,
The devil has come.
The push of his fingers on the cast-iron rung.
The entrance, the last to have entered
Commence with sudden diligence to dream.
The iron in its fire is hot,
The cello in its coffin, quit
And all around the rooftops
Sighs of jaundiced women.
There are elements here of the Canadian ghazal, merged with an almost classical air; Lederer writes disparate leaps that thread together into some kind of altered whole, emerging from the other side of where you hadn’t realize you entered. Perhaps it’s the current climate, but I was partial to her poem “Financial Release,” but what of this earlier collection of hers, Winter Sex? I’m Canadian, darling, I know I could tell you a few things about that you might not have known, even point you to a few other writers who could tell you a thing or two; should we compare notes?
To avoid the whole mendacious thing.
To sign yet another financial release.
Your arms collapse against my knees.
My knees are two pigeons, checked wings now aflutter.
Orange-red eyes like small, derogatory suns.
We are standing here dually.
Not wanting to do.
Not wanting to draw our tired bodies up stairs,
To the freshly cleaned desk and the long, covered window,
Its curtains so perfectly evenly drawn.
To look out at the sky: an insurrection of good worker’s eyes.
To place one’s eyes upon the clouds …
Enthroned upon ephemera.