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  • NYS Writers Institute

Poetry Friday: "What the Day Gives"



(Skip Dickstein / Times Union file photo)

(Skip Dickstein / Times Union file photo)


What the Day Gives

By Jeanne Lohmann (1923–2016)


Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder

in the middle of gray November

what I hoped to do comes back,

asking.


Across the street the fiery trees

hold onto their leaves,

red and gold in the final months

of this unfinished year,

they offer blazing riddles.


In the frozen fields of my life

there are no shortcuts to spring,

but stories of great birds in migration

carrying small ones on their backs,

predators flying next to warblers

they would, in a different season, eat.


Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world

that plunges in a single day from despair

to hope and back again, I commend my life

to Ruskin’s difficult duty of delight,

and to that most beautiful form of courage,

to be happy.


From The Light of Invisible Bodies: Poems. Jeanne Lohmann was a Quaker poet who published more than 10 volumes of poetry and was featured in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Her poetry collections are available at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.