May 2000

Rachel Hadas


Rachel Hadas Rachel Hadas's newest publication, Merrill, Cavafy, Poems, and Dreams (University of Michigan), will be released June, 2000. Her earlier publications are: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems, (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), The Double Legacy: Reflections on a Pair of Deaths (Faber & Faber, 1995), The Empty Bed (Wesleyan University Press, 1995), Other Worlds Than This: Translations (Rutgers University Press, 1994), Mirrors of Astonishment (Rutgers University Press, 1992), Living in Time (Rutgers University Press, 1990), Pass it On, (Princeton University Press, 1989), and A Son from Sleep (Wesleyan University Press, 1987). Her poetry has been seen in New Yorker, Threepenny Review, Paris Review, Yale Review, and New Republic among others. She currently lives in New York City.

The Afterglow    Audio is currently unavailable for this selection

Certainties—truth, beauty, and belief—
go in and out of focus. Mostly out.
Occasional flickers sheet a sky turned dull,
lit up by little else than recollection.
Life is lived both
according to the memory of the flash
and in the dimness of the aftermath.
The tide goes out; comes in.
The light fades low again.
The raw wound of the crater fills with green.
But ah, the afterglow.
And oh,
the undertow.



Coleridge Back from the Dead    Audio is currently unavailable for this selection

A strong if small survivor
whose muffled utterance
is precious proof that language
outlasts a generation—

not language printed on the page
but spoken face to face.
The poems by which we know him
here fade without a trace.

Diminutive and withered,
his white head shyly bent
to his rusty waistcoat,
he mumbles something without looking up.

It’s hard for the withered messenger
to make his dry mouth work,
harder to understand him. 
As one rapt in a crowd

drifting lost in thought
shapes one hoarse word aloud
scarcely aware of it,
Coleridge gets out: “per.”

“Per,” he begins, and stops.
Would the completed word
have been Perseus?
Persephone, perception, perhaps?

Perseus... perhaps.
A ramifying realm,
myth, possibility—
exhaled, then breathed back in.

Per was all I heard.
Tonguing this nub of sound,
I wake into my own
late life, my lexicon.




Rachel Hadas: Poetry
Copyright � 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 11The Cortland Review