The poet’s rituals at the start of a work day

Offertory

 David Wagoner, born 1926, American

 

 

Ready to leave for work, I look around

 

 

 

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A room in Hudson, New York, 2014 

 

 

 

To check windows and switches:  in the sink,

 

 

 

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Still Life with City Hall Tower (Philadelphia), 1981, hand-coloured etching.  Elizabeth Osborne, born 1936, American.  Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia

 

 

 

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 Cactus, 1931, oil on canvas.  Charles Sheeler, 1883-1965, American.  Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

 

 

A pool of coffee poured from the last cup

Gleams near the drain; the ring in the bath

 

 

 

Interior of house, West Shokan, NY-11

A bath in West Shokan, New York

 

 

 

At its own level holds my body up;

And crumpled on the bed, blankets like sheep

 

 

 

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A bedroom in West Shokan, New York

 

 

 

 

Crouch where the ram came, reeling, from his dip.

 

 

 

 

Not a ram but a goat and suckling kid; hard paste porcelain, c. 1772, Johann Joachim Kandler, 1706-1775, German. Meissen Manufactory, Germany.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

 

So many rituals: two cups for the gods

 

 

 

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 Porcelain mugs made in the eastern US between 1995 and 2015.

 

Of the left and right temple, the grounds gone

 

 

 

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To the right and left statues of Amenhotep III; c.1390 BCE; porphyritic diorite. Originally in Thebes and now at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

 

 

 

Where all libations go; on porcelain,

 

 

 

Porcelain cups and vases made by Edmund de Waal.  Unknown date.

 

 

 

My yesterday in an upright, shrinking lather;

Dial down and ticking under the pillow-slip,

 

 

 

 

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Unknown provenance from an exhibition of furniture, MOMA, New York, c. 2009.

 

 

 

Two sheets to the wind hauled back from sleep-

 

 

 

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 The Crossing, c. 1911, oil on canvas. A portrait of Ida Rubinstein by Romaine  Brooks, 1874-1970.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC

 

 

 

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Customers preparing for sleep on a train from Ahmedabad to Jaipur, India. 2010

 

 

 

I leave these for the maker of light whose rain

On the alarming morning fell again.

 

 

 

 

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Rain on Philadelphia rooftops. 2008

 

 

 

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Crossing Market Street, Philadelphia  on its east side.  The Delaware River behind, the City Hall in front  at the crossroads of Market and Broad.

  On the way to work on a day of rain.  So familiar a journey.  So many years:  most of them alarming or wearying.

  But time passes and all things pass also.

 

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