Half February

Charles Wright


St. Valentine’s. Winter is in us.
Hard to be faithful to summer’s bulge and buzz
                                                                                   in such a medicine.
Hard to be heart-wrung
And sappy in what’s unworkable and world-weary.
Hard to be halt and half-strung.

All of us, more or less, are unfaithful to something.
Solitude bears us away,
Approaches us in the form of a crescent, like love,
And bears us away
Into its icy comforting, our pain and our happiness.

I saw my soul like a little silkworm, diligently fed,
Spinnng a thread with its little snout,
Anna Garcias wrote in the sixteenth century.
And who can doubt her,
Little silkworm in its nonbeing and nothingness.

Nothing like that in these parts these days —
The subject for today, down here, is the verb “to be,”
Snow falling, then sleet, then freezing rain,
St. Catherine nowhere in evidence, her left side opened, her heart
All the world’s noise, all its hubbub and din,
                                                              now chill and a glaze.


From The Yale Review, October 1997, issue 85.4.

Image: Derrick Tyson, The Occupations of a Codex, photograph, 2006. licensed under CC BY 2.0 .