Lorine Niedecker

POEM: for Lorine Niedecker

for Lorine Niedecker

I imagine you at a card table
on a screened-in porch
vinyl tablecloth
with a bright flower pattern
glowing in the afternoon light
of a Wisconsin spring

you’re holding a sheaf
of carefully typed poems
harvested from years of
unvoiced imaginings
your hands shake slightly
second ring catching the light

in front of you on the table
is a Philips dictation machine
tiny wheels turning
as you intone the words
your reedy voice
imparting a gentle dignity

at this point almost no one
has heard of you
two books published decades apart
one privately, one only in Scotland
your connection to American letters
a series of epistles to Zukofsky

soon a stroke will take you
silencing your voice
just as it’s becoming audible
but enough have heard to ensure
your words will survive beyond
this Wisconsin afternoon

for now it’s enough
to sit on this warm porch
read your poems about Monticello
remember Polly and Darwin
this paean to place
your lasting gift to the world

5 April 2012
Brooklyn NY

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It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April. This poem was inspired by the Niedecker episode of Essential American Poets.