poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 13, 2016.
About this Poem 

 “This poem is an actual transcription of an event, which is a bit unusual for me: a blue vase set between two windows refracted the morning light. And then, Hart Crane’s poem ‘Repose of Rivers,’ which I have always loved, in which the wind is ‘flaking sapphire,’ surfaced in the last lines; an example of the poem itself catching reflected light, as the vase did.”
Cynthia Zarin

Blue Vase

Because you like to sleep with curtains drawn,
        at dawn I rose and pulled the velvet tight.

You stirred, then set your hand back on my hip,
       the bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging 

wave on wave, until as though a lighthouse
      beam had crossed the room: the vase between

the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,
        seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.  

What’s that? you said. A slip of light, untamed,
       had turned the vase into a crystal ball,

whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two
       sleepers startled in each other’s arms,
     
while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,
            adrift between the past and future tense,
   
        a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped
                 sapphire—love enduring, give or take.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Cynthia Zarin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Cynthia Zarin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Cynthia Zarin

Cynthia Zarin

Cynthia Zarin is the author of Orbit (Knopf, 2017) and The Ada Poems (Knopf, 2010). She teaches at Yale University and lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem

To Mary Jo Salter

Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees, 
past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow, 
two skating rinks and two black crooked paths

are a battered pair of reading glasses 
scratched by the skater's multiplying math. 
Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe.

Divide, subtract. Who can
poem
Bone-spur, stirrup of veins—white colt
a tree, sapling bone again, worn to a splinter,
a steeple, the birch aground

in its ravine of leaves. Abide with me, arrive
at its skinned branches, its arms pulled
from the sapling, your wrist taut,

each ganglion a gash in the tree's rent
trunk, a child's hackwork, love
poem

As the future ripens in the past...
a terrible festival of dead leaves

—Anna Akhmatova

The trees talk quietly among themselves
the thrush sings its brown song brushed with blue
the roses from the bodega open in the vase

and under the streetlight the long shadows

2