I've lifted Fleda Brown's poem from Poetry Daily, though I plan to post more work from the latest Iowa Review as soon as I get my copy of it. The James Wright I've included below is widely available on the interwebs, but the audio file I have of him reading is not. Scroll down to hear James Wright read "A Blessing." If the embedded player doesn't work, click the title to download the file.
Just past the railroad bridge
over the Green River, the deep pool—
dragonflies and white moths—
where you can see the huge
fish hovering. And Zach
with his skinny arms, leaning,
and the whack of the line,
the wrenching. I wish I could
save him from his nightmares,
his waking fear of muggings,
of bombs, of what there is
legitimately to be afraid of.
Up came the pike, nearly three
feet long, teeth set on the line.
I didn't see this. Zach came back
with the fact of it in his face,
terror and the joy of terror,
the pike down there in his soul,
making up its mind without
thinking, moving up and down
like a submarine by shifting
molecules of gas from its blood
to its swim bladder, not a motion
of the body involved, waiting
to clamp fish, frogs, children,
sideways in its teeth, nothing
to do with consciousness,
with will, and here is Zach
to tell me, as if I hadn't been there
myself, watching the worst
come up because I fished it
up out of its waiting and almost
went down with it, to the green
and gloom, to the churning
ghosts. As if I hadn't won, too,
when the line snapped,
the weight of it lasting forever
in my skinny arms.
from Iowa Review, Fall 2009
All right. Try this,
Then. Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can't imagine and a pain
I don't know. We had
To go on living. We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads
were making under water,For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden's blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
from Above the River