Two Poems

By Young Smith

The Story of Watching

It is a primitive form of thought that either things exist or do not exist.
—Sir Arthur Eddington

Our thoughts are objects, made of matter’s stuff,
in their germ, no less solid than iron or stone.

As such, a room remembered is itself a room,
whose windows are not apparitions,

but squares of earnest glass. Whose door
is not an eidolon, but a passage

to another space, yet to be assembled.
The reverse is true as well:

whatever it seems we should believe,
those floors we trust as wood or marble,

whose weight and presence our feet attest,
are thoughts themselves, made of notion’s fabric,

no more solid at their winking source
than imagined windows or remembered doors.

We live among these rooms we build,
of brick or thinking, of now or then,

where the walls are a voice in the story of watching,
trembling to speak their shapes in our touch.



Canticle with Migratory Birds

Let her mind be a gourd hanging
from a backyard pole, and let the martin

come there to make its summer visit.
Let it plait young twigs with leaves

and mud in the hollow of her brow
and groom its purple feathers
under the shelter of her regard.

Give the bird a mate and a brood
of hatchlings to share its tufted nest,

and while they idle here among
the languid gardens of her will,

let them adorn her conceits
with the jeweled husks of insects,
with broomstraw and cornsilk

gathered from the wind.
Let this craft be her only return

for their keeping—a fretwork
of notions wound with thistle

and floss—and when the birds
have departed, making south
for the green shadows of Brazil,

let these forms remain as a vessel
to preserve her thoughts of June.

In days of snow and narrow light,
let her bring the gourd down

from the pole. Let her shake it gently
and hear inside the dry brush
of a wreath across its shell.

Young Smith has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and  the Kentucky Arts Council. He is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University.

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