They are farmers, really–
hoeing and planting
in strict rows ripe with manure,
coaxing each nebulous seed
to grow. Year after year
of drought or rainstorm,
locust or killing frost, they bundle
their hay into stacks
of inflammable gold, or litter
the barn floors with empty husks.
At the market they acknowledge
each other gruffly and move on,
noting who has the more bountiful
harvest, whose bushel baskets
are laden with beets and tomatoes,
tumescent with fruit.
Under the sheen of success
or the long shadow of failure,
what they labor for remains
the same: their own muscular
beanstalk rocketing skyward
from a single bean.
From the Publisher’s Web site:
Incandescent poems about living and aging—about being awake in this young century—by one of our most moving and eloquent poets.
These poems chart the journeys of sleepless nights when whole lifetimes seem to pass with their stories: loves lost and gained; children and seasons in their phases; and the world beyond, both threatening and enriching life. The time before sleep acts as an invitation to reflect on the world’s quieter movements—from gardens heavy after a first storm to the moon slipping into darkness in an eclipse—as well as on the subtle but relentless passage of time. Insomnia embodies Linda Pastan’s graceful and iconic voice, both lucid and haunting.
Bio from the Poetry Foundation Web site:
Linda Pastan was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. In her senior year at Radcliffe College, Pastan won the Mademoisellepoetry prize (Sylvia Plathwas the runner-up). Immediately following graduation, however, she decided to give up writing poetry in order to concentrate on raising her family. After ten years at home, her husband urged her to return to poetry. Since the early 1970s, Pastan has produced quiet lyrics that focus on themes like marriage, parenting, and grief. She is interested in the anxieties that exist under the surface of everyday life.