On the Miracle of Nameless Feeling

by Brenda Hillman

           They struggled at sunset
& moonrise, they struggled at sunrise—
      then not. It is best to be
             the calm one, a diadem. Over
their heads, the galaxies whirled, fires
    so hot the sun could not relate;
 then, putting all that away…

   They’ve brought passion & exhaustion
to the wedding. Lists are finished—
    abstraction & realism, details repeated
        as in airport carpet. Sometimes passion
will sustain them or an interest in certain
    problems. Sometimes in the night
         they’ll describe the nameless feeling.
Nations praise peace but the miracle
       is food—not just for the human,
for the the owl, the mouse—; & now

           they stand as a lighthouse
stands on granite, capped in cloud;
    it’s unbearable how often
the sun goes down but the next day
    is a ship of numbers set on fire.
         Their love was nothing, then
    was almost everything. The named
 & the nameless dream with them there—

for SK & MZ


The Fuel of an Infinite Life

As the Roots Prepare for Literature

brenda hillman Brenda Hillman has published eight collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press: White Dress (1985), Fortress (1989), Death Tractates (1992), Bright Existence (1993), Loose Sugar (1997), Cascadia (2001), Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005), and Practical Water (2009), for which she won the LA Times Book Award for Poetry, and three chapbooks: Coffee, 3 A.M. (Penumbra Press, 1982); Autumn Sojourn (Em Press, 1995); and The Firecage (a+bend press, 2000). She has edited an edition of Emily Dickinson's poetry for Shambhala Publications, and, with Patricia Dienstfrey, co-edited The Grand Permisson: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (2003). She co-translated, with Diallah Haidar, Poems from Above the Hill: Selected Poems of Ashur Etwebi, one of Libya's most significant poets. In 2010 she co-translated Jeongrye Choi's book of poems, Instances, released by Parlor Press.