Ninety-five Nights of Listening : Poems

by Malinda Markham


Malinda Markham's peoms are inspired in part by her fascination with Japanese language, art, and literature. Her reactions to and interpretations of that country's history, culture, and people are in these verses, echoing with the voices and silences of women across time. Markham imagines the experiences of many women: a geisha laments her past in "Geisha Considered as Making," as a mother laments for her daughter's future in "Yield to This." Markham is intrigued with how language tries but ultimately fails to hold memory in place. She grapples with the translation of words and feeling and shows how this failure also brings a searching for belief - a word that repeats throughout these poems - in a world that cannot allow it. Writes Cole Swenson, "Markham's language has the delicacy of the fine bones of the inner ear; it is, itself, a form of listening - to insects, birds, traffic, to the world. Her listening brings things into being, catching the nuances of change, from season to season, culture to culture, impression to language. This is a radiant collection."

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780618189281
  • ISBN-10: 0618189289
  • Pages: 80
  • Publication Date: 08/15/2002
  • Carton Quantity: 80

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
  • Malinda Markham's peoms are inspired in part by her fascination with Japanese language, art, and literature. Her reactions to and interpretations of that country's history, culture, and people are in these verses, echoing with the voices and silences of women across time. Markham imagines the experiences of many women: a geisha laments her past in "Geisha Considered as Making," as a mother laments for her daughter's future in "Yield to This." Markham is intrigued with how language tries but ultimately fails to hold memory in place. She grapples with the translation of words and feeling and shows how this failure also brings a searching for belief - a word that repeats throughout these poems - in a world that cannot allow it. Writes Cole Swenson, "Markham's language has the delicacy of the fine bones of the inner ear; it is, itself, a form of listening - to insects, birds, traffic, to the world. Her listening brings things into being, catching the nuances of change, from season to season, culture to culture, impression to language. This is a radiant collection."

    Subjects

    American/General

  • Being Glass

    This is music: Birds scratch a line from treetop to roof. The struck spine rings like a sealed room. A person could identify leaves through the shoulder blades. The tongue glacial, the arms strips of light.

    From the right direction, houses billow and curve.

    Years later, the man awoke, not remembering his eyes. They were a particular color, he knew, and when he wore a certain shirt, he could leave the house without shaving.

    The woman, too, once had eyes.

    He painted them for her, the only detail of her face rendered mistaken. Snow falls, and the picture is grainy.

    I am old, he thinks, though this doesn’t help.

    Gift

    The birds that chattered in the trees above the school have left us with the sound of wings and the smell of smoke in our hair. For three nights now, only one star has graced the curve of the moon. The sky is silenced: We cannot move, who gauge our way by stories lit above our heads. Before dawn, a uniformed man tossed a wire loop around a stray dog’s neck.

    For the first time, I remembered my fear. This is a city where teams of men shout at once, then return the fields to their usual calm. No letters arrive. The doll left as a gift for the previous tenant is faceless as I am, as pale.

    Robed in mustard and red, she has no features, her head smooth as a spool. I love her best for she has no arms: She holds another no better than I.

    The doll will crumble if left at the door. Already, ash powders her hair. At night, we call our solitudes equal, one as still as milk, the other gentle as the dust that mutes her. We have become a town spoken of in stories. One forgets there are actual stones to bruise the knees when we fall.

    Copyright © 2002 by Malinda Markham. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.