Käthe Kollwitz, Tod and Frau (Death Seizing a Woman), 1910, 17 1/2 x 17 in. Etching on paper. Pomona College Collection. Gift of the Culley Collection
Violent Storm by Mark Strand
Those who have chosen to pass the night Entertaining friends And intimate ideas in the bright, Commodious rooms of dreams Will not feel the slightest tremor Or be wakened by what seems Only a quirk in the dry run Of conventional weather. For them, The long night sweeping over these trees And houses will have been no more than one In a series whose end Only the nervous or morbid consider. But for us, the wide-awake, who tend To believe the worst is always waiting Around the next corner or hiding in the dry, Unsteady branch of a sick tree, debating Whether or not to fell the passerby, It has a sinister air. How we wish we were sunning ourselves In a world of familiar views And fixed conditions, confined By what we know, and able to refuse Entry to the unaccounted for. For now, Deeper and darker than ever, the night unveils Its dubious plans, and the rain Beats down in gales Against the roof. We sit behind Closed windows, bolted doors, Unsure and ill at ease While the loose, untied wind, Making an almost human sound, pours Through the open chambers of the trees. We cannot take ourselves or what belongs To us for granted. No longer the exclusive, Last resorts in which we could unwind, Lounging in easy chairs, Recalling the various wrongs We had been done or spared, our rooms Seem suddenly mixed up in our affairs. We do not feel protected By the walls, nor can we hide Before the duplicating presence Of their mirrors, pretending we are the ones who stare From the other side, collected In the glassy air. A cold we never knew invades our bones. We shake as though the storm were going to hurl us down Against the flat stones Of our lives. All other nights Seem pale compared to this, and the brilliant rise Of morning after morning seems unthinkable. Already now the lights That shared our wakefulness are dimming And the dark brushes against our eyes.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2007, 267 pagesISBN 0307262979, 9780307262974