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About this Poem 

"This poem will appear in my forthcoming book This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)—a book devoted in part to ecology and transformations of courtly love, not least Dante's vision. The poem most likely springs from ongoing reading in and around Dante and Petrarch and troubadours as well as reading in the book of life. I'm interested in historical and lyrical conjunctures: contemporary intimacies and opacities, shot through by deep pasts and unknown futures."
—Maureen McLane

They Were Not Kidding in the Fourteenth Century

Maureen N. McLane

They were not kidding
when they said they were blinded
by a vision of love.

It was not just a manner
of speaking or feeling
though it’s hard to say

how the dead
really felt harder
even than knowing the living.

You are so opaque
to me your brief moments
of apparent transparency

seem fraudulent windows
in a Brutalist structure
everyone admires.

The effort your life
requires exhausts me.
I am not kidding.

Copyright © 2013 by Maureen McLane. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on July 1, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Maureen McLane. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on July 1, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Maureen N. McLane

Maureen N. McClane is the author of the poetry collections This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry; World Enough (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); and Same Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); as well as the hybrid book of memoir and criticism My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. She is a professor of English at New York University.

by this poet

poem
little moth
I do not think you'll escape
this night

I do not think
you'll escape this night
little moth

               *

bees in clover
summer half over
friends without lovers

               *

I bite a carrot
horsefly bites me

               *

I thought it was you
moving through the trees

but it was the
poem

What I'm looking for
is an unmarked door
we'll walk through
and there: whatever
we'd wished for
beyond the door.

What I'm looking for
is a golden bowl
carefully repaired
a complete world sealed
along cracked lines.

What I'm looking for
may not

poem
Again the white blanket 			
icicles pierce.
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns