Anne Michaels


Griffin Poetry Prize 2014
Canadian Shortlist

Book: Correspondences

Poet: Anne Michaels

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Anne Michaels reads from Correspondences

from Correspondences

Not our memory of the dead, but what the dead remember

and then
we came and you were no longer there
everything in its place
your presence gone

we waited, went out, returned
but still nothing held
the light after rain,
for I looked there too
in the rain that fell

and yet

a soul can make the wind blow,
make light and shadow through the trees,
through rain,

can be as near as your own skin

the rain that held the light
that fell, the rain that fell,
the light that held

this room
and the love we lived here
that which your memory last looked upon

your task
now, perhaps,
to forget not us, but
the details of us, and love
again and love again, and love again,

sealing the seam
endlessly, one pressed to another,
like metal folded over and again
for strength, like
pleated cloth gathered and pierced
by the steel needle of that single moment
of dying
and you will come back to me
and I will come back to you
and all the world
will be a sign

all the world and
every thought, every
drop of paint to make sunlight or
love in a human eye, every word that
passes through our breath,
every weight we hold and carry, every
grasp of hair, grasp of heat,
every cupping and every emptying

your warm hand and – both in mine –
your soul’s hand above the hospital bed

They wanted you to shout oranges
in the street, a few coins from the grocer
to raise your voice. But you stared
at the pyramid of perfume and oil,
and instinctively smelled your fingers
for the vanished scent, and felt into
your pocket for the bit of peel carried
since. And stood,
the mud of another country
still on your shoes. Silenced
by that bit of earth.
While Celan in Paris wept
for the same contraband,
ronger and grincer
gnawing and grinding
between voix and voie
voice and path,
between converse and its converse
between Ancel and Celan
between Mayer and Amery
between the Nemen and the Prut
between sauf and soif,
rescue and

Celan rushed from Paris to Stockholm
and stood, forever
unadmitted, outside
her hospital door.
“Come as quickly as possible,”
Sachs had written
and then:
“Don’t, under any circumstances, come.”

From Correspondences by Anne Michaels
Text Copyright © 2013 by Anne Michaels

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