January 17, 2008

Up On the Roof

This morning it began to snow. From my fifth-floor apartment window, I could see that the roofers on the building next to mine were still trying to do their job, laying out rolls of tin and wielding big, fist-sized flames--to make the material more malleable, perhaps. DC is all white and gray and brown. I appear to be living in an Ashcan School painting.

[[Above: "Snow in New York, 1902," by Robert Henri, 1865-1929, from the Chester Dale Collection, 1954.4.3]]

Tonight I drive to Middleburg, Virginia, to the be poet-in-residence at Foxcroft--an all-girl boarding school--for a couple of days. I'll be visiting classes, giving a reading, and judging a poetry slam. The best part will be hanging out with Mia Noffsinger, a wonderful poet I know from UVA days who now teaches there. Here's an old, old poem of Mia's that I still love:

Upon Reading Hemingway for the First Time

Breath on my windowpane --
the river rises with each grey dawn.
I am overcome by longing
to sing the songs of the Appalachains,
to harvest grapes with my bare hands,
to press wine from a ripe
swollen bunch of words.
We would drink it with the
toreador before he went out
to die. Or maybe today it
would be the bull.
Either way, the moon
would still be waning.
Or alternately, it would grow
round. Either way, you
would be alone tonight,
and I would be kneading
bread dough and counting
stars, empty.

My bed is cold without you
and my words naked. If you come
back, we will drink wine as if
we were doomed lovers in Spain,
and whether the bull-fighter lives
or dies, or the bull, I will
show you the waterfall
by Dripping Rock and the
cliff where the hawks nest.

I will kiss you under the stars,
or alternately, there will be no stars.

Either way, I am lonely.

--Mia Noffsinger

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