Laurie Klein Reads Moon Crossing Bridge
Editor’s Note: “Poems to Listen By” is an audio series where over time we will explore some of the themes in the Poet Laura checklist, as well as Tweetspeak’s “Perspective” theme throughout 2022.
Poems to Listen By: Moonstruck 07—Moon Crossing Bridge
Presented by Laurie Klein
Welcome! This is “Poems to Listen By.” I’m Laurie Klein, here with our new series: Moonstruck.
Let’s begin today with an untitled haiku, by poet Steven Chernick.
between the grains,
Those almost-tactile lines remind me of a poem by Tess Gallagher. Mourning the death of her husband, writer Raymond Carver, Gallagher compares the anguish of separation to the elusive, flat cone of sand in Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion garden—a mercurial shape, which only appears in moonlight.
In a note to the reader, Gallagher explains that, in Kyoto, the Chinese characters for the famous Togetsu Bridge are said to be an allusion to the moon crossing the night sky.
Moon Crossing Bridge
If I stand a long time by the river
when the moon is high
don’t mistake my attention
for the merely aesthetic, though
that saves in daylight.
Only what we once called worship
has feet light enough to carry
the living on that span of brightness.
And who’s to say I didn’t cross
just because I used the bridge in its witnessing,
to let the water stay the water
and the incongruities of the moon to chart
that joining I was certain of.
Gallagher’s small poem is so wondrously layered, I’d like to read it for you a second time.
I’d like to propose a toast, to what holds true amid uncertainties, in the irrepressible spirit of the Irish:
A moonlight toast to your coffin:
May it be made of 100-year old oak,
and may we plant the tree together,
You’ve just heard an untitled haiku by Steven Chernick, and “Moon Crossing Bridge,” from the collection by the same name, by Tess Gallagher.
I’m Laurie Klein. Thank you for listening.
Photo by Wendelin Jacober, Creative Commons license via Flickr. “Moon Crossing Bridge,” by Tess Gallagher, from Moon Crossing Bridge, Graywolf Press; 1st edition (February 1, 1992). Used by permission. Haiku: Steven Chernick, Used by permission, Every Day Poems. Audio and script by Laurie Klein with thanks to Pat Stien for direction. “Simple Gifts” (public domain). Musical performance, recording, and mastering, by Bill Klein.
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