About the Poem
About the poet
Jean Valentine was born in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois and has lived most of her life in New York...
The hornet holds on to the curtain, winter
sleep. Rubs her legs. Climbs the curtain.
Behind her the cedars sleep lightly,
like guests. But I am the guest.
The ghost cars climb the ghost highway. Even my hand
over the page adds to the 'room tone': the little
constant wind. The effort of becoming. These words
are my life. The effort
of loving the un-become. To make the suffering
visible. The un-become love: What we
lost, a leaf, what we cherish, a leaf.
One leaf of grass. I'm sending you this seed-pod,
this red ribbon, my tongue,
these two red ribbons, my mouth,
my other mouth,
- but the other world - blindly I guzzle
the swimming milk of its seed field flower -
"Letter" from Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 (Wesleyan University Press, 2003), © Jean Valentine 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher