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Brad Leithauser...[E]xhibits enough formal variety, freshness and intelligence to confirm...that Adair is a poet of accomplishment and originality.
— The New York Times Book Review
" Extraordinarily moving. Her voice is clear, assured, varied, and ...
" Extraordinarily moving. Her voice is clear, assured, varied, and utterly her own."
--A. Alvarez, The New York Review of Books
" The rhyme is ingenious, the humor saucy and unsparing, and the author clearly takes a delight in perversity, in an inversion of the expected."
--Alice Quinn, The New Yorker
" How bright and unmuddled and unaffected and unswerving these poems are. There's such aplomb, no faking, such a true hard edge. They never miss."
" Adair writes with a thinking heart's and a feeling mind's unusual clarity. Here is a sensual, wise, precise, amazing voice."
Virginia Hamilton Adair is America's most widely read and respected serious poet. Ants on the Melon has already become a landmark in the nation's literary history, and the advent of this paperback edition guarantees that her great gifts will be recognized and appreciated by an even larger audience.
When the rains come you remember our old closeness humping along in the wet.
You grope the dark where I hang morosely by my crooked neck.
You pull off my cover shake me till my ribs jingle and a moth flies out.
Your hand reaches under my black skirt and up one leg thin as a cane until I open wide with a rusty squawk hovering above you like a dark and loving raven, said the old umbrella, her night full of holes.
Peeling an Orange
Between you and a bowl of oranges I lie nude
Reading The World's Illusion through my tears.
You reach across me hungry for global fruit,
Your bare arm hard, furry and warm on my belly.
Your fingers pry the skin of a naval orange
Releasing tiny explosions of spicy oil.
You place peeled disks of gold in a bizarre pattern
On my white body. Rearranging, you bend and bite
The disks to release further their eager scent.
I say "Stop, you're tickling," my eyes still on the page.
Aromas of groves arise. Through green leaves
Glow the lofty snows. Through red lips
Your white teeth close on a translucent segment.
Your face over my face eclipses The World's Illusion.
Pulp and juice pass into my mouth from your mouth.
We laugh against each other's lips. I hold my book
Behind your head, still reading, still weeping a little.
You say "Read on, I'm just an illusion," rolling
Over upon me soothingly, gently moving,
Smiling greenly through long lashes. And soon
I say "Don't stop. Don't disillusion me."
Snows melt. The mountain silvers into many a stream.
The oranges are golden worlds in a dark dream.
One Ordinary Evening
Lying entwined with you on the long sofa
the hi-fi helping
Isolde to her climax
I was clipping the coarse hairs
from your ears and ruby nostrils
when you said, "Music for cutting nose wires"
and we shook so the nailscissors nicked
your gentle neck blood your blood
I cleansed the place with my tongue
and we clung tight pelted with Teutonic cries
till the player lifted its little prick
from the groove all arias over
leaving us in post-Wagnerian sadness
later that year you were dead
by your own hand blood your blood
I have never understood
I will never understand.
An Hour to Dance
For a while we whirled over the meadows of music our sadness put away in purses stuffed into old shoes or shawls
the children we never were from cellars and closets attics and faded snapshots came out to leap for love on the edge of an ocean of tears
like a royal flotilla
Alice's menagerie swam by no tale is endless the rabbit opened his watch muttering late, late time to grow old
From the Hardcover edition.
|Summary by the Pawns||4|
|Asbury Park, 1915||5|
|Fordham Road, 1917||7|
|The April Lovers||12|
|An Hour to Dance||15|
|The Dark Hole||20|
|Ants on the Melon||25|
|Buckroe, After the Season, 1942||30|
|By Old Maps||32|
|Americans in Bloomsbury||40|
|In Dublin's Fair City, 1963||46|
|Reunion Between Planes||48|
|Now You Need Me||49|
|Laguna in September||56|
|Riding a Koan||62|
|Light in Wrightwood||64|
|Two of Us||72|
|Yes, Though I Walk||73|
|The Genesis Strain||81|
|God to the Serpent||84|
|TV Brideshead Revisited||85|
|Cutting the Cake||87|
|Child as Deity||88|
|The Wedding Frame||89|
|Too Small for Words||94|
|Now We Lay Us||100|
|Where Did I Leave Off?||105|
|Peeling an Orange||107|
|By the Waters||110|
|One Ordinary Evening||113|
|The Year After||118|
|A Last Marriage||120|
|Two Sides of the Coin||122|
|Return to Madison||131|
|For Scholar-Poets R.M. and R.G.B.||135|
|John Berryman's Winter Landscape||136|
|Take My Hand, Anna K.||150|