Quiet Like a Canonized Saint
Phylinda Moore on Stanley Kunitz
On staying across the street from Stanley Kunitz’s Provincetown, Massachusetts, house
the week of his death in his 100th year.
The houses along the path kept a New England confection
of manageable yards,
turned poets’ meditation gardens.
He wasn’t home, he was in New York.
Unaware he was dying, I wanted
to absorb the landscape of his poetry,
see the garden’s wild tangle of delight.
There was a tile of two snakes set in the brick wall.
No breeze, the trees quiet like a canonized saint,
the bushes a green profusion.
A torn porch screen,
as a poet can’t always be bothered to seal doorways.
His world became his poem.
Seaweed, sand and air.
Light over bay turning golden before red, then dark.
I have walked through many lives,/ some of them my own,/ and I am not who I was,/ though a principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray. . . no doubt the next chapter/ in my book of transformations/ is already written./ I am not done with my changes.
– Excerpt from “The Layers,” in Stanley Kunitz’s The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.)
Phylinda lives in Philadelphia. She has also lived in Oklahoma, Washington D.C., Malaysia, and New Orleans. Print and online publications include: Mastodon Dentist, Fuselit, The Rambler, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine. She holds an MFA from Rosemont College. Follow her on Twitter @phylindamoore.