Crown – Kay Ryan
Too much rain
In the hills giant oaks
fall upon their knees.
You can touch parts
you have no right to—
places only birds
should fly to.
As August comes to an end, I begin to reflect on the end of summer – or, rather, the ending of summer. Perhaps it takes being born in the summer to be sensitive to the days beginning to grow shorter, even by minutes. Or maybe that’s just a kind of idealistic hope of my own. My world’s been pretty rich this summer, good and bad. Through it all, I am happy to report hope keeps winning out, idealistic or otherwise.
Kay Ryan’s work has always struck me as full of a similar kind of hope. A kind of stubborn and willful hope played out in phrasing and what she terms “recombinant rhyme.” The poem above models this willfulness with grace; the poem below has a tone steeped in struggle. Enjoy!
A Certain Kind of Eden – Kay Ryan
It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.