November 2010

Michael Blumenthal


Michael Blumenthal Michael Blumenthal's seventh book of poems, And, was published by BOA Editions in 2009. He is also the author of the memoir All My Mothers and Fathers, the novel Weinstock Among The Dying, and a collection of essays from Central Europe, When History Enters The House. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at West Virginia University's College of Law.

Written On The Day After My Sister's Death    

The swan couple, as every year at this time,
are cruising the shore of Lake Balaton
with their seven little ones—
it's always seven, I count each year—
they are looking for crumbs and sandwich bits
from the bathers along the shore,
the female out front,
the male behind,
the young ones between
and they always remind me
of the passing and recurrence of things,
as do the storks nesting on my neighbor's chimney
with their infants—
sometimes two, sometimes three—
but always the return from southern climes
and, always again, these births,
this familial coherence
that soothes, somehow, beyond ourselves
as today, the late afternoon sun in my face
and the swans perambulating the shore,
I closed my eyes and fell asleep
and when I looked up,
they were still there, that family of swans,
making their way toward me
with their seven brown babies—
not six, I counted them again—
but seven still.


Madden's Pond    

Old man Madden is surely dead by now,
and the pond itself overgrown with weeds,
the site of a development or mall,
or just itself, but ordinary now,
a festering stink hole of memory and mud,
though it was once so heavenly to me,
when I would go there with my girl (the girl
I loved then, best I could), our tent, and
our two old cats, Emily and Muir, week-ends
after teaching, packed into the little Beetle
we had bought, straight from the factory
that famous summer, 1969, when three men
landed on the moon and Woodstock happened,
and the Isle of Wight, and Kennedy took
Mary Jane Kopechne for a drive (all, it seemed,
in just a matter of days, as if even history itself
could be compressed), but, meanwhile, back
at Madden's Pond, the frogs were jumping
and the crickets wild, with high school students
humping on the grass in summer love and heat,
without remorse, as she and I, too, shook
each other with a passion only youth allows,
and old man Madden fed a young deer on the lawn,
and everything seemed possible and good
at Madden's Pond, which doubtlessly exists no more
though it did then, and Madden too, and love
and possibility, and youth and air, still undefeated
and so wholly good, we thought it was eternal,
as we'd like to even now, when ponds are gone
and old men too, and girls, and younger love.



Michael Blumenthal: Poetry
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