Door in the Mountain by Jean Valentine - Read Online
Door in the Mountain
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Winner of the National Book Award in Poetry (2004)

Since the 1965 publication of her first book, Dream Barker, selected for the Yale Younger Poets Award, Jean Valentine has published eight collections of poetry to critical acclaim. Spare and intensely-felt, Valentine’s poems present experience as only imperfectly graspable. This volume gathers together all of Valentine’s published poems and includes a new collection, “Door in the Mountain.”

Valentine's poetry is as recognizable as the slant truth of a dream. She is a brave, unshirking poet who speaks with fire on the great subjects—love, and death, and the soul. Her images—strange, canny visions of the unknown self—clang with the authenticity of real experience. This is an urgent art that wants to heal what it touches, a poetry that wants to tell, intimately, the whole life.
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ISBN: 9780819573155
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ALSO BY JEAN VALENTINE

The Lighthouse Keeper, Essays on the Poetry of Eleanor Ross Taylor, editor

WESLEYAN POETRY

DOOR in the

MOUNTAIN

New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003

J E A N   V A L E N T I N E

WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PRESS    •    MIDDLETOWN, CONNECTICUT

for Pesha & Rebecca

with love

Published by Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT 06459

This collection © 2004 by Jean Valentine

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

5  4  3  2  1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Valentine, Jean.

Door in the mountain: new and collected poems, 1965-2003 / Jean Valentine.

     p. cm.—(Wesleyan poetry)

Includes indexes.

ISBN 0-8195-6712-4 (cloth: alk. paper)

I. Title. II. Series.

PS3572.A39D66 2004

2004016019

8II'.54—dc22

Contents

Acknowledgments

NEW POEMS

Annunciation

*

In our child house

Nine

The girl

Mother

Eighteen

She Sang

A Bone Standing Up

The Hawthorn Robin Mends with Thorns

Out in a sailboat

I came to you

*

Cousin

The Very Bad Horse

Once

So many secrets

Eleventh Brother

Once in the nights

Under the gold

The Windows

Go Clear

The Coin

October morning

I heard my left hand

In the evening

*

We cut the new day

Occurrence of White

How have I hurt you?

Do flies remember us

You drew my head

The little, faintly blue clay eggs

Happiness (3)

Letter

I could never let go

The Basket House

The House and the World

In your eyes

Woman, Leaving

Trim my hoofs

Two Poems for Matthew Shepard

The Blue Dory, the Soul

The Rally

The Growing Christ of Tzintzuntzan

Sheep

To the Bardo

Rodney Dying (4)

*

Door in the Mountain

Monarch butterfly

My old body

Inkwell daybreak

The path between

The Night Sea

The Shirt

One Foot in the Dark

A weed green

Fears: Night Cabin

so wild

I have lived in your face

A goldfinch in the rain

The grain of the wood

The push or fly

I would be

Avalon

Do you remember?

Advent Calendar

We didn’t know each other

Touch with your finger

Noon in the Line Outside

Inside

Your number is lifting off my hand

*

The Needle North

The Passing

In the Burning Air

Little house

*

Notes

DREAM BARKER (1965)

First Love

For a Woman Dead at Thirty

Miles from Home

To Salter’s Point

Lines in Dejection

Sleep Drops Its Nets

Déjà-vu

Sunset at Wellfleet

Asleep over Lines from Willa Cather

Cambridge by Night

To a Friend

Waiting

Sasha and the Poet

The Second Dream

A Bride’s Hours

1. Dawn

2. The Bath

3. Night

Afterbirth

Sarah’s Christening Day

Tired of London

Cambridge, April 27, 1957

New York, April 27, 1962

September 1963

Riverside

For Teed

My Grandmother’s Watch

The Beast with Two Backs

The Little Flower

Sex

Adam and Eve: Poem on Folded Paper

Dream Barker

To My Soul

PILGRIMS (1969)

I

The Couples

Fireside

Solomon

In the Museum

By the Boat Pond

The Summer House

Woods

Her dream: the child

Orpheus and Eurydice

Goodbye

Separation

Thinking about Cain

Dearest

II

April

Broken-down Girl

Bin Dream, West College East, D-11

Bin Dream #2, Interview with Stravinsky

Death House

Archangel

Half an Hour

Visiting Day at School

The Child Jung

Coltrane, Syeeda’s Song Flute

Photograph of Delmore Schwartz

The Torn-down Building

Moon Man

The Child and the Terrorist, The Terrorist and the Child

Night

Pilgrims

ORDINARY THINGS (1974)

I

After Elegies

‘Autumn Day’

He said,

Forces

Kin

Anesthesia

After Elegies (2)

II

3 A.M. in New York

Space

Letter from a Country Room

A Child’s Death

Revolution

Three Voices One Night in the Community Kitchen

The Knife

Seeing L’Atalante

III

Twenty Days’ Journey by Huub Oosterhuis, translated from the Dutch with Judith Herzberg

IV

This Hate

This Minute

Couvre-Feu: after Paul Eluard

Fidelities

Susan’s Photograph

Outside the Frame

Forces (2): Song

*

Notes

THE MESSENGER (1979)

Beka, 14

Dufy Postcard

The Field

Living Together

Here Now

The Forgiveness Dream: Man from the Warsaw Ghetto

Turn

Prayer in Fever

Working

Silences: A Dream of Governments

After Elegies (3)

The Messenger

Two Translations

Huub Oosterhuis: Orpheus

Osip Mandelstam: 394

Solitudes

December 21st

Sanctuary

What Happened

Turn (2): After Years

The Burden of Memory

February 9th

Love and Work: Freud Dying

Letter from a Stranger

Actuarial File

Lines from a Story

March 21st

*

Notes

HOME.DEEP.BLUE (1989)

Willi, Home

To Raphael, angel of happy meeting

Primitive Painting: Liberation Day

Awake, This Summer

Mandelstam

The Drinker’s Wife Writes Back

Birthday Letter from South Carolina

The Counselor Retires, and Then He Dies

Juliana

Visit

Snow Landscape, in a Glass Globe

Everything Starts with a Letter

About Love

Little Song in Indian Summer

The King

High School Boyfriend

Tonight I Can Write…

Trust Me

THE RIVER AT WOLF (1992)

X

Spring and Its Flowers

The Summer Was Not Long Enough

Still Life, for Matisse

Still Life: in the Epidemic

Ikon

The Year of the Snake

The One You Wanted to Be Is the One You Are

Ironwood

Bud

To a Young Poet

Foraging

Alfred and the Abortion

Redemption

Seeing You

The Free Abandonment Blues

The First Station

Night Lake

The Badlands Said

The Missouri Speaks

The River at Wolf

The Ring

Barrie’s Dream, the Wild Geese

Fox Glacier

Lindis Pass, Borage

By the Tekapo River, 100 Degrees

After Consciousness of This Big Form

Everyone Was Drunk

In Fear (1)

In Fear (2)

In This Egg

The Under Voice

Come Akhmatova

James Wright: in Memory

Wish-Mother

At Cullen’s Island

The Wisdom Gravy

American River Sky Alcohol Father

The Morning of My Mother’s Death

The Night of My Mother’s Death

Second Mother

The Sea of Serenity

My Mother’s Body, My Professor, My Bower

Butane

At My Mother’s Grave

We Go Through Our Mother’s Things

Death Asphodel

To the Memory of David Kalstone

The First Angel

At the Door

Yield Everything, Force Nothing

Alone, Alive

Flower

Skate

Guardian Angel in New York

To Plath, to Sexton

The Power Table

GROWING DARKNESS, GROWING LIGHT (1997)

Rain

Sick, Away from Home

Friend

Homesick

New Life

Bees

The Tractors

River Jordan

Night Porch

*

World-light

Snow Family

To the Black Madonna of Chartres

Tell Me, What Is the Soul

Mastectomy

Secret Room, Danger House

Red for Blood

Yellow for Gold

Green for the Land

Black for the People

Home

Long Irish Summer Day

*

Dog Skin Coat

Fellini in Purgatory

Elegy for Jane Kenyon

You Are Not One in a Sequence

Alcohol

Where Do You Look for Me?

Documentary: AIDS Support Group

Poem with Words by Thornton Dial

A Bit of Rice

The Night of Wally’s Service, Wally Said,

Rodney Dying

Rodney Dying (2)

Father Lynch Returns from the Dead

The Baby Rabbits in the Garden

*

Mother and Child, Body and Soul

Soul

Soul (2)

The Mother Dreams

Fistula

Soul (3)

*

Open Heart

Listening

THE CRADLE OF THE REAL LIFE (2000)

Part I

The Pen

Elegy for Jane Kenyon (2)

Black Wolf

Mother Bones

They lead me

Your mouth appeared to me

Mare and Newborn Foal

Truth

October Premonition

Rodney Dying (3)

November

Labrador

1945

Leaving

Running for a train

The Welsh poet

Radio: Poetry Reading, NPR

The Tower Roof

For a Woman Dead at Thirty (2)

The Blind Stirring of Love

Little Map

The Drinker

The Drinker (2)

Happiness

Happiness (2): The I Ching

He leaves them:

Away from you

Child

Part II: Her Lost Book

1.

2.

3.

Index of Titles and First Lines

Acknowledgments

The following sections of this volume were previously published as books.

Dream Barker. Copyright © 1965 by Yale University Press. Reprinted with the permission of Yale University Press.

Pilgrims. Copyright © 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 by Jean Valentine. First published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1969.

Ordinary Things. Copyright © 1972, 1973, 1974 by Jean Valentine. First published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1974.

The Messenger. Copyright © 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 by Jean Valentine. First published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1979.

Home.Deep.Blue. Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

The River at Wolf. Copyright © 1992 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Growing Darkness, Growing Light. Copyright © 1997 by Jean Valentine. First published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 1997.

The Cradle of the Real Life. Copyright © 2000 by Jean Valentine.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following periodicals in which the poems in Door in the Mountain first appeared: American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Boston Book Review, <canwehaveourballback.com>, Hayden's Ferry, Heliotrope, Kestrel, Luna, Massachusetts Review, The New Yorker (Sheep, My old body, One Foot in the Dark); Ohio Review, Persephone, Poetry Ireland, Two Rivers, U.S. I Worksheets, van Gogh's Ear, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Washington Square Review.

Also to the following anthologies: Best American Poems 2002, Blood and Tears: Poems for Matthew Shepard, The Book of Irish American Poetry, Hammer and Blaze, and Poetry After 9/11.

To the editors, and to Dorland Mountain, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo, my deep thanks.

New Poems

Annunciation

I saw my soul become flesh      breaking open

the linseed oil breaking over the paper

running down      pouring

no one to catch it      my life breaking open

no one to contain it      my

pelvis thinning out into God

*

In our child house

In our child house

our mother read to us:

England:

                    there the little

English boy would love us under

neath a tree:

                         not kill us:

that was white space only

like her childhood     like her

father     her sorrow

Nine

Your hand on my knee

I couldn't move

The heat felt good

I couldn't move

The shutmouth mother goes down the stairs

and drinks warm whiskey

she always goes

and drinks warm whiskey

down in the corner:     Hand-

me-down:

And everything on the hair

of starting again.

The girl

spills the half-gallon of milk on the floor.

The milk is all over the floor, the table,

the chairs, the books, the dinner, the windows

—Mother and son are gone happy.

The father to work.

The sister to marriage.

The girl is still spilling

the milk-house

white negative shining

out of one life into another life.

Mother

in your white dress

your smoke

your opaque eye

you whose name

my foot

wrote

I had to die

break the rope

push through the stone fence

of you, of myself, and fly

Eighteen

Green bookbag full of poems

I leaned with my bicycle

at the black brick edge of the world

What was I, to be lost

or found?

My soul in the corner

stood

watched

*

Girl and boy

we had given each other

*

I gave up signing in

to the night book

little notes in time

signing our names

on the train's engine car

gray 19th century Irish men

in our gray stiff clothes

She Sang

Save the goat of humanity!

She started out

shot through with love books

She chose closed hearts

those she knew

would not kill her

Save her memory     her bones

dig under the house

dig near home

here at the X in the mouth of the house

the shell shocked woman     all her bones

goat bones

A Bone Standing Up

A bone standing up

she worked for words

word by word

up Mt. Fear till

she got to her name: it was

She Sang.

The Hawthorn Robin Mends with Thorns

Talking with Mary about 1972:

like a needle

through my 25-years-

older breast my years thinner rib: 1972:

a child-life

away from my children:

"but you couldn't have been different

from the way you were"

but I would to have been different

Out in a sailboat

Out in a sailboat with the warden

he says so-and-so weighs 95 lbs. now

says she slept with him

because he was kind

when she was in prison

She woke up

hypnotized

A wonderful boat

She woke up

walking with the homeless

on a plank

no red schlock rope

I came to you

I came to you

Lord, because of

the fucking reticence

of this world

no, not the world, not reticence, oh

Lord Come

Lord Come

We were sad on the ground

Lord Come

We were sad on the ground.

*

Cousin

The erotic brown fedora on the desk:

the erotic silver watch from your father's time

balanced on its thin hinged silver lid

on the Teacher's Desk:

Once or twice, someone comes along

and you stand up in the air

and the air rises up out of the air:

One leaf

then branches

stood up in the sun consuming

—Cousin, it was happiness on earth.

The Very Bad Horse

The very bad horse doesn't budge until the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.

—The Buddha

My first own home

my big green bed-sit

in London, in 1956

double bed     green spread

sixpence coin-fed gas fire

London fog     huge little footsteps