Monday, October 1, 2007

Why I Am a Witch

Susan Elizabeth Howe (1997)

Because each October the maple in the field
Takes fire and I stand to watch it burn.
Because sun strikes the far slope
Until the aspens rise, smoky gold.
Because stars hide themselves in the sharp blue,
Waiting. Because I can name things and know
They will change. Because the light
Won't always be there and because
Nothing should hurt that much.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this poem is so effective for me because it's beautifully written or because I've always felt alone in experiencing natural beauty as pain. Is that crazy? Am I missing the point and reading something crazy into this? The title makes it that much more evocative--I guess I associate "witch" with agency. The scene seems to give the speaker there agency in simply being so affected by transition into fall, or by color itself? In any case, it resonates with me.

dan said...

from her book Stone Spirits

Ms. Howe was my "writing poetry" professor at BYU circa 1992.

dan said...

Thanks, anonymous, for your comment. For one thing, it happens to be October 1st, so your timing is pretty good. Better than mine, by a few months.
I'm going to move this poem from July 15 to Oct 1, and put another in its place.

Thanks, also, for your insight into Ms. Howe's poem. The idea of natural beauty being experienced as pain is new to me. It seems to be a more precise and useful idea than my simpler consideration, that it was another poem invoking Fall to complain about how time is always running out.

The thought on agency is also helpful. The witch is a contrarian of Nature, and her power in this case: "I can name things and know/ They will change." So the poetry that is her witchcraft is how she chooses to fight back.

dan said...

today's new poem is on July 15: Natural Gas by Peter Wild