Once More The Round

A favorite poet, Stanley Kunitz died Sunday.

One of the highlights of my college years was hearing Kunitz read at the University of Washington the year Roethke died. The next day I went to the UW bookstore and bought his book of poetry. I’ve been buying them ever since.

I’ve discussed this poem before when I discussed his collected poems, as it ends the collection. Somehow is seems even more appropriate today:

TOUCH ME

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

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