by Joyce Carol Oates

Page 3

To read one's own poems in juxtaposition with those of Emily Dickinson, with however a provisional sense of their worth, is an act of supreme chutzpah; an act to which, I would repeat, and insist, those of us who are participating in this volume have been driven. . . .

This first poem of mine is celebratory; if it carries a subtext within it, as I don't doubt it does, the very subtext (weeds, beauty, gloating, pride) is celebratory. The poem is for Jana Harris, poet- friend of mine whose garden I visited one lovely hot July. Such supremely healthy vegetables, and weeds--

     --for Jana Harris

Here, in July, in Jana's weedy garden,
heat rising from the earth like vapor
and such luxuries of vegetables!--
red onions and parsley and peppers and
beets and mint and lettuce newly bolted
thigh-high and sweet corn in tall shaggy
rows and potatoes unearthed like crude
gems heaped in our arms and thank you,
thank you for every gift this life we
haven't deserved and now at harvest,
when the air pulses with heat and the sky
is massed with fat dimpled clouds like pride
licking itself unrepentant, hungry
for all you can give.

  previous page
next page
table of contents
search the archives

  Titanic Operas Main Page
Copyright 1999 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <>
Last updated on March 10, 2008
Dickinson Electronic Archives