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Monday, 22 March 2010

Pillow


.

File:Forest nature reserve Grady nad  Moszczenica5, Poland, 6 May 2006.JPG




for Angelica



Our arms sleep

Together under water


Air curves into the room

On feathers


Apple leaf light

Beneath the blankets


A butterfly of hair

In the breeze



1968




Forest nature reserve, Moszczenica River, Poland
: photo by Kwz, 2006

11 comments:

is said...

Absolutely beautiful this! Especially -

'Apple leaf light
Beneath the blankets'.

The simplicity leaves it resting inside you.

is said...

Quite why my comment was left by someone called 'is' I have no idea. I'll look into it. Delete delete Tom, sorry :) Leigh.

TC said...

Leigh,

Very strange about "is". The internet is crazy, sometimes.

Thanks for the lovely comment. The poem brings back a lot. It was written a few days after our wedding (March 22, 1968).

What a time that was. On the one hand, private joy. On the other, public chaos all around us. The Vietnam war was raging. Martin Luther King had just been shot, there were riots, LBJ had gone on tv, obviously under great stress, to say he would not stand for re-election.

Anonymous said...

Tom Clark

Scholar, Mimetic Genius
and one of the few
who can write love poems

TC said...

Many thanks Anon.

Amor vincit omnia, as we murmur among the dusty scholars' carrels of the imagination.

Always happy to hear from you.

~otto~ said...

And again, wow. That's love.

TC said...

And for a believe-it-or-not double wow: it was written in... (can this really be true?)... Buffalo.

~otto~ said...

Double-wow, indeed

Curtis Faville said...

Tom:

Am I nuts, or did I read this poem once in The New Yorker?

I'm sure I did read a poem of yours there, but maybe not this one.

I was staying in Texas over the holidays--this must have been in 1970 (?), and I casually picked an issue up from the coffee table, and thumbed through it, surprised as all get out to see a poem by you there.

Or did I dream this?

Curtis Faville said...

I just linked into The New Yorker site, and found a reference to "Pillow," for the September 27, 1969 issue, which would put it at the right date, if I was in Fort Worth for Christmas and New Year's of 1969-70.

Was this the poem, with "Pillow" as its title?

TC said...

Oh Curtis, I do love you for this.

You have a steel-trap mind if ever there was one, my friend.

Indeed this poem first appeared in The New Yorker. The only poem of mine that has ever appeared therein, in fact.

A small tale goes with it.

The poem was accepted shortly after it was writ (in the spring of 1968), by the then poetry editor of TNY, Howard Moss.

A brief dialogue ensued.

The poem had been submitted, as it now appears here, with the dedication "to Angelica".

Mr. Moss however insisted that the dedication be removed, because, as he said, he was finding it exceedingly tiresome that so many poems he was accepting had dedications "to every Gert and Dick and Jane," as I think he may have put it. And, he said, he was going to put a stop to all that.

It must be admitted that my own mind these days is less a steel trap than an old shoe, so I may have those names wrong. But I am certain that "Gert" was one of them.

I remember attempting to tell him that Angelica was one of a kind, that everything is nothing but itself, and that Gert & co. had no bearing on the matter.

He remained adamant. And of course he was holding all the cards in that particular game.

So the poem appeared without the dedication.

I did and do feel ashamed for having backed down.

Whenever I have been tempted, over the years, to scorn the endlessly boring, bland middle-of-the road selections of Alice "No-Win" Quinn, Paul "Lost Doubloon" Muldoon, & co., I have thought back to the incident with Howard "Total Loss" Moss, and recognized that for better or worse, the way of The New Yorker and the way of Tom "In the Dark" Clark were only ever going to diverge with time.

Looking back on it now, indeed, it seems to me a minor miracle that this rather pretty little poem ever made it into those pages in the first place. That is not nor ever was my world.