“After a Very Long Difficult Day”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
March 20 2012 5:45 AM

 “After a Very Long Difficult Day”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Brenda Hillman read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

            You talk to your loved ones 
        at night. It is a kind of modernism:
          color sees into you, thinks a warm
       path, a tint of meaning brought
from how you feel. Then, you are double:
      the owl calls out, tyto alba,
in your sleep—scrip scrr—heart-shaped face
emitting loose nouns … Under its turf,
the smart mouse turns; the fierce dead
      merge with the recently born
where earlier they emptied what you seek—

     How will you be known? Some
registered complaints. You passed them
          in the hallway, their new haircuts.
      The bosses are known by new wars.
What salmon are left hurry upstream—
cold swaths in the bay. Linnets, by
     rose fire at the edges—(linnet or finch?
the word edge has wings made of “e”);
the moon rests in a mantle
   of minutes, its boundaries in back
       of the trees. Boundaries
          are known by their nothings—;
you will be known by your dreams.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

Brenda Hillman is the author of eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Practical Water. She is the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.

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