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A Deed to the Light

A Deed to the Light

Poems by Jeanne Murray Walker
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 96
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  • Book Info
    A Deed to the Light
    Book Description:

    In A Deed To the Light Jeanne Murray Walker asks probing questions about the depth of grief, about letting go, and about the possibility of faith. Her poems have been described by John Taylor, writing in Poetry, as "splendid, subtly erudite, uplifting, and funny." _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09276-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. Part 1
    (pp. 1-14)

    Your bedroom. Your lover behind the bamboo screen.

    He moves his flashlight across your tiny, silent woman’s body

    the way a searchlight sweeps dark sky,

    the way, balancing in a boat one night,

    on the muscley waters of the Amazon,

    I ran a flashlight along the shore

    until I spotted twin eye-fires

    and felt the brain between them

    pull me toward it. I aimed carefully and shot.

    Today a friend called to say that you’ve been dead

    for months, Japanese earth filling your eyes and mouth,

    that your lover had a jealous wife,

    that fearing we would discover him


  4. Part 2
    (pp. 15-28)

    Sometimes I think of Bach,

    working a stick with his mouth

    to get notes he couldn’t reach

    with his hands and feet,

    so the sweet catastrophe of counterpoint

    could break the hearts of his parishioners.

    And while we’re on the subject of music,

    think of the monk who dove

    and dove again into dark archives

    to rescue from oblivion

    the Gregorian chants of Leonin and Perotin,

    whose names have lasted while his remained unknown,

    though what they’ve dubbed him,

    Anonymous IV, makes him less unknown

    than other unknown writers.

    Still, in the sacrifice business,

    there’s no guarantee of fame.


  5. Part 3
    (pp. 29-40)

    It was years before I grasped how, if I wrote it,

    no one would believe me, how the phone rang

    as I was getting dressed, as I was listening

    to my mother sing in the kitchen on her birthday,

    happy, finally, after two years as a widow—

    missing him in a different way, maybe, humming

    about the miracle of reaching one more station,

    even without him, the power of her body

    to keep her children in clothes, in food, the miracle

    that she has strength to walk to work and back,

    that someone pays her for what she loves to...

  6. Part 4
    (pp. 41-50)

    And then there was Mr. Luman, the teacher

    whose death they announced that Tuesday,

    who vowed to donate ten thousand dollars

    to the one of us who named our first kid

    Igor Stravinsky—just send him a telegram

    to let him know, he said. He’d cut off

    his thumbs for culture. He’d be happy

    to dive five stories naked from the window

    to make us understand “To be or not to be.”

    He knew we thought he had no real life,

    that he was a cardboard cutout

    they wheeled from the closet

    every morning. And really, what was he


  7. Part 5
    (pp. 51-62)

    Here is the path, I’d like to say, darker than it was, maybe,

    but here we are. Turn left at the light. What light is left.

    I am thinking about Romulus Augustus, the two-year-old, last

    emperor of Rome, how one morning before Barbarians

    broke through the wall and slashed his throat, his guardian

    stood on his portico looking out and said,So that was Rome,

    which had been falling for a hundred years

    slowly as an encroaching stain through fabric,

    as the invasion of ginko forests across Eastern Europe,

    though no one had noticed. Maybe the John Deere of history...

  8. Part 6
    (pp. 63-75)

    It’s a big country, live and let live, free to be

    you and me, etc., with malls like monuments

    to Freedom and also with the big, idiot prairie,

    where you can choose which cow to talk to.

    Oh Freedom’s famous in America, but sometimes

    I think of the fence Frost praised, or pretended to,

    the way you can bisect a hillside and presto, two

    hillsides, one for each of you. How you can

    draw a line across a paper and have both earth

    and sky. Think how a fence can be five thin wires,

    like a bass clef that runs...

  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 76-82)