Friday, January 2, 2009


My favorite poem of the year comes from the anthology New European Poets (Graywolf Press, ed. Miller & Prufer). The collection, worth a billion times its weight in devalued dollars, introduces poems from European poets who have not had significant publication in the U.S. Organized geographically, the pages trek eastward through the usual European nation states and switch rails to cover the varied poetries found in the lesser read countries to the east. The last sections fly the reader back west along a northern latitude, if you'll excuse the Lonely Planet Guide analogy, to present poems from the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, and the British Isles. In no hurry, I've kept the book next to the reading chair in my study since July, wandering through to a new section every couple of weeks. I keep returning to this gorgeous little poem, though:

Mornings on the Ground

To accept the day. What will come.
To pass through more streets than houses,
more people than streets. To pass through
skin to the other side. While I make
and unmake the day. Your heart
sleeps with me. It wraps me up at night
and the mornings are cold when I get up.
And I'm always asking where you are and why
the streets no longer are rivers. At times
a drop of water falls to the ground
as if it were a tear. At times
there isn't ground enough to soak it up.

--Rosa Alice Branco, translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin