Two for Tuesday

Belle de Nuit

Two for Tuesday: Eamon Grennan (unlike my Eamonn with the two n’s) + one


Fall Duet

They’re back again the starlings in the big London plane tree
with its canopy of leaves beginning to dry and fade to yellow
the birds belling their off-key duet with the chainsaw
lopping a branchy pine to pieces its whine now dominant
now diminishing so you can hear these manic troubadours
of the late-lasting drunken honeycomb of a season singing.


You’re thinking of those North African flowers called Belles de Nuit those
moonlight-loving rouge-magenta blooms the book says are blooms
of sadness (herbe triste) and elsewhere Four O’Clock or Marvels of Peru—
open-mouth harvesters of scents till dawn and then deep sleepers in their
richly petalled beds of shut-light all day long pretending (invisible among
their dusk-coloured leaves) to be not there at all yet each concocting
inside its own night-luminescence simples to settle ills and cool fevers.

To Sit

He wonders what the manic squawk of a laughing gull
could make of the momentum of a life that sits and practices
knowing itself under the mild eye of May sunshine and in the silken
arms of an easterly breeze off the almost steel sea and how
there’s nothing to be done as the pointed grasses nod and the dunes
start to show a few yellow flowers and any hour now
a white or amber butterfly will waver over dunegrass
to sip at whatever nectar cocktail the season’s concocted
and that will be for the moment as it’s always been enough.

Eamon Grennan taught at Vassar College for many years and currently teaches in the Graduate Writing Program of Columbia University. His most recent collections are Still Life with Waterfall (Graywolf, 2002) and The Quick of It (Graywolf, 2005). He is the co-translator (with Rachel Kitzinger) of Oedipus at Colonus (2004), published by Oxford University Press.