Poem of the Week | October 05, 2015

This week we feature a new poem by Harold Schweizer. Originally from Switzerland, Schweizer teaches in the English Department at Bucknell University. Among his numerous publications are Suffering and the Remedy of Art (SUNY Press) and On Waiting (Routledge), Rarity and the Poetic: The Gesture of Small Flowers (Palgrave), and his book of poems, The Book of Stones and Angels (Tupelo Press). His most recent manuscript is a long poem, “Miriam’s Book,” on a survivor of the holocaust.
Author’s note:

One writes, and writes, and writes, and suddenly there is something. This poem is not an exception. I think I am old. I am glad to be old, sixty-five. In this poem the river, which flows by our house with an ancient, silent dignity, is a daily joy to me. If one could go down to it, I wonder in the poem, to have one’s swine purged from one’s accumulation of swinish things. And if one went down and there were no Circe but only an invitation to oblivion? It is sad to imagine one’s ashes falling from a bridge, but if they fall like sleep, it is a happy way of thinking about it.


And If a Day Is Left to Me Before I’m Old


And if a day is left to me before I’m old I will go
past the bridge through the barren snow-covered
field along the curved lines of the cut corn stalks
standing like thrown sticks and beyond the field
down the slight fernslept incline where the river’s
slab of skylight glides stately down the seasons


And I will go to the river if a day is left to me
before I’m old for there the wind-tubes play
strange music “go to Circe by the river go to get
her haul the swine out of you like a sack of pain”


And I go and I bend over a fold of wind to hear myself
missing if I didn’t go missing before and I’m old and
I think of my ashes falling like sleep from a bridge
and your sorrow wading across a bed of river stones