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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 11, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I was thinking about how distinctly I experience time in the ‘uncertain hour’ or hours the poem describes, how infinite time seems when given in those short spans, how far memory can travel before completing its arc in the present moment again.”
—Saskia Hamilton

This Hour

This hour, while a child sleeps, before he wakes
and those arcadian hours we make together—
is it a continued arch, vaulted, open at both ends, is it
a bending?—recommence. Yes, a bending.
Light before you’d call it light bluing the sky.
The old city below, a fidget toy’s
string of buildings; doves calling and answering
from ledges in the cavities; a low
branching into divisions of memory;
a hot afternoon’s lunch on the grounds
of the museum, children at play in
tethered circles; traffic and voices from the avenues
carrying along the bright cold mornings
on the lawns of big houses near the hotel;
those who saw me home, whoever they were
(though I know who they are), I also saw them home.
I rode in their cars. I rode with the mother of the boy
who lost all his words, she gave us a ride, the boys
with their large eyes, sitting up high beside
each other and smiling; the empty avenues
of asphalt from the station to the new
hospital to the corner we rounded
and, past the galvanized fence, a school;
the city narrows there;
there is the river, suddenly;
and then a spread of houses like a cowl on the head
of the island; a journey whose meaning
was as yet unknown though I know it sometimes;
sheep on a patch of land at the convergence
of two superhighways; no silence in the train;
harvesters in orange and red slickers
among the lettuces; swifts overhead;
apricots flecked with rose; lichen spreading
on corrugated iron; short-wave voices of those
who are gone now remembered in the intonation
of throwaway phrases; it should not follow
but it follows; and are their fathers here;
one of them is, white stubble where his razor
didn’t pass that calls up his morning,
the temperature of his cheek, and how
luck befriended us then, and at this hour,
which rests on a child’s sleeping.

Copyright © 2017 by Saskia Hamilton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Saskia Hamilton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Saskia Hamilton

Saskia Hamilton

Saskia Hamilton is author of Corridor (Graywolf Press, 2014), Divide These (Graywolf Press, 2005), and As for Dream (2001).

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The song itself had hinges. The clasp on the eighteenth-century Bible
had hinges, which creaked; when you released the catch, 
the book would sigh and expand.

The song was of two wholes joined by hinges, 
and I was worried about the joining, the spaces in between 
the joints, the
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