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Poem-a-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 250 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary and audio by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 500,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact [email protected]. The series is curated by twelve poets from across the country who have wide-ranging expertise and editorial perspectives. Learn more about our 2018 guest editors and read the poems they curated.

Hither Come Hither

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 14, 2018.
About this Poem 

“The title of the poem alludes to Amiens's song (‘Under the greenwood tree…’) in Shakespeare's As You Like It and to William Blake's "Song: Memory, hither come." I wrote this poem while at the Willapa Bay AiR artist-in-residence program, located on a remote peninsula on the Washington State coast, in a cabin surrounded by red alders. I was reading a field guide entry on red alders when a bird slammed into the large window in front of my desk and dropped down into the ferns—I was startled. The poem tries to capture all of the levels of engagement with the forest—the red alders' part in the ecosystem, my struggle to avoid metaphysical and romantic reductions of the tree, and my meditation on my romance with other forests in my past. The irony in the poem is the way the bird can be seen as an interruption both to communing with nature and writing the poem itself—the act of observing nature through notations further distancing me from it.”
—Richard Greenfield

Hither Come Hither

Still turnstiles framed by a window           the red alders of Willapa Bay


                    [              Then, a red squirrel,
                                   my notation of it
                                   as if it were an upheaval
                                   in daily drifting—            ]

the limbs dangled their catkins      as I upswung to them from within

                    [              A history
                                    of a wet afterbirth
                                   and held in the arms of my mother        ovate
                                   my notation of it         formative for me—        ]

               The signal from branches        in bright green coats, loud                                                                      
                            in the vivified hollow of the swale      in a site
   of gladness (as this gaze would have had it) morning becoming
excessively noon 
                 the gladness
as I waded through it    bathing in forest     shinrin-yoku                                                                                   
                                                                                           in Arashiyama
with her      in twenty-first century style
and in other such claims of the bourgeois traveler



                           [   Why will I not name her    why will I not speak 
                               to her?    I want to spare her   no
                               I want to feel I spared her this historicity
                               and if I explain the gladness   I will harvest it
                               the new sustainability—                                ]


























also      the throngs of phones in front of tourist faces

                         [    Sudden emergency warble in the alder—     ]


                         [    Then, a robin panned 
                              into the plane of glass
                              (my relentless notation of it)
                              flailed off and submerged into the alder
                                                                                      saplings—     ]


                         [     Then I shocked to a finchsong—      ]


                 And I was back to Blake (safe ground) from a near-linnet’s 
                 song ripped from itself into this alien, human, distanced, 
                 tribal ritual, convey it or to channel it        vatic


         The composer near me said there were three forms of listening: 
the sensuous plane, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane, but 
but we preferred it scaled into the diatonic


with no chromatic alterations



so that much was missed



          Blake said I’ll drink of the clear stream—he would not sing—
        and this was the grief: the fish of the sighers’ stream were fish
caught within a thimble-sized drinking glass
                                                                                                     dumb fancies

















     






Or was it the decomposing fish of Agassiz, finally described?


                         [    Then a green humming bird floated before me                                         
                              my notation of it—                                    ]


                         [    What is this false history?  what I
                             is this false history?—                ]


My alder leaves are serrated     and here comes meta phor

                                                             my use of the window as a frame
                                                                      
                                                               my subjectivity
                 spored into the air between our limbs
                   lodging into evergreen porousness
                  swelling through the rains into a soft 
                         blanketing moss-future






We want time to have happened before we did
but not after we did
the forest was here for us to arrive within
                                                                   [we paid our admission
                                                                   we paid to feed the deer  ]







































         The red alders on the edge of the continent will hear 
          the shallow breath outside the mouth of the creation

         without us, a bombast torn into the plane of silence 

           as the shelf slips at last into the eustatic Pacific

         we distance ourselves from our bodies
         these storehouses of bloodless meat erected on feet

         and whatever is made of alder is alder








                                               Yes now unlatch 
                                               the lock
                                                from this gland 
                                               morning’s sap
                                                into an instant 
                                               amber
                                                thought leaked 
                                                onto the lichen 
                                                 bole
                                               hatched through 
                                                  the window

Copyright © 2018 by Richard Greenfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Richard Greenfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.