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Manoa 14.1 (2002) 68-69

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Three Poems

Leonard Nathan


He who traveled the world to find
pure distance found only
the next range always receding.

One destination, many names—
Patagonia, Archangel
where tears freeze before they fall.

Even the next room appeared
remote, the woman in it, humming,
hard to reach as the nearest star.


Sketch of a heavy man in soft grays
and black seated against the faded backdrop
of an old city, Cracow perhaps.

He's not waiting for color to give him life,
or for the glass of darkness on the table
to redden as the artist might have hoped.

He leans to pluck an improvised guitar.
The woman sitting beside him opens her mouth
as if to sing, as if to sing the silence. [End Page 68]

Daughters of Music

Daughters of music, brought low these days,
sing on though the wheel is broken, the almond tree
blighted in blighted fields.

We scarcely catch their drift, sisters of wind,
voices of smoke lamenting the broken pitcher
left at the dry well.

Too late now to comfort us, they carol
into the night, lovely, meaningless songs,
obsolete as candles.


Leonard Nathan recently published The Potato Eaters (Orchises Press, 1999), which was awarded a silver medal for poetry by the Commonwealth Club of California, and Diary of a Left-Handed Birdwatcher (Harcourt Brace, 1998). He has published in the magazines Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Mänoa, among others.



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