Saturday, February 12, 2011

When tidying up and cleaning I am always distracted by poetry

Statues in the Park
By Billy Collins
I thought of you today
when I stopped before an equestrian statue
in the middle of a public square,

you who had once instructed me
in the code of these noble poses.

A horse rearing up with two legs raised,
you told me, meant the rider had died in battle.

If only one leg was lifted,
the man had elsewhere succumbed to his wounds;

and if four legs were touching the ground,
as they were in this case-
bronze hooves affixed to a stone base-
it meant that the man on the horse,

this one staring intently
over the closed movie theater across the street,
had died of a cause other than war.

In the shadow of the statue,
I wondered about the others
who had simply walked through life
without a horse, a saddle, or a sword-
pedestrians who could no longer
place one foot in front of the other.

I pictured statues of the sickly
recumbent on their cold stone beds,
the suicides toeing the marble edge,

statues of accident victims covering their eyes,
the murdered covering their wounds,
the drowned silently treading the air.

And there was I,
up on a rosy-gray block of granite
near a cluster of shade trees in the local park,
my name and dates pressed into a plaque,

down on my knees, eyes lifted,
praying to the passing clouds,
forever begging for just one more day.

Billy Collins is always so precise, accessible and this is just how I feel. Tomorrow I will take "The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems" with me, just incase I get stuck in traffic.


  1. I hadn't read this one...superb!

    ps.You learn something everyday, I didn't know that about horse statues.

  2. It is always a pleasure to come unexpectedly upon a Billy Collins poem.

  3. A March Day

    A sharp brilliant March day is this
    day in the broad Champlain Valley.
    Across the lake, Mount Marcy,
    a star on the horizon.
    The hot sun rests in cool blueness
    of sky, pulls sweet sap up
    through the maple trees to where it
    bursts into the drops we hear ping
    into the tin bucket.

    Later, when brilliance dims
    and cool air slows the sap,
    my kitchen recedes into a
    montage of grey, purple and blue.
    It is in this suspended moment
    I feel the presence of the souls
    who were here before me.
    We are held in intimacy,
    as I draw the curtains,
    before the kitchen light is pulled on,
    before the mystery of twilight ends.

    Carole Trickett March 2005