What is Brought to Light



The White Year
 Vona Groarke

I am told that memory can’t afford
to care less about what it brings to light
just as I’m told the table does not

occupy itself with cleanliness
nor the made bed with desire,
but it is difficult to believe.

I do not imagine it simple to strip
from any given afternoon
the intentions of the day.

Not when a contingent darkness
announces itself at the door
like an ordinary to-do

and not when, in the winter garden,
the beautifully managed trees
toy with shadows of themselves.

A skim of plausible survival
settles on what I do while, in the museum
of the everyday, no dust whatsoever

is to be found on the bedside chair,
unopened perfume,
impeccable gold quilt.

It may well be possible to separate
into a fiction of forgetfulness,
the accomplished house,

but I don’t believe in it either.
There is before and after,
surely, and there is discretion

to be accounted for, and grief,
night after night, city after city,
word after functional word.

This is whatever time I have.
My whole body has to find a way
to be in possession of itself

like a shop selling only white things
or the way two bridges on the same river
will have knowledge of each other.


I first read this poem by Vona Groarke here at Poetry Daily:




3 responses

  1. I was never the one, in College, who spoke up in English class to offer analysis of the poetry we would read. I was never the one because I never learned how to read in a way that would allow me to understand the author’s intention. As I get older, however, I have learned to appreciate poetic works for the messages they contain. I’ve read and reread this piece and believe I understand Groarke’s message. I will not present my analysis for fear of being wrong and having to relive those afternoons of long ago when I endured class in the knowledge that I was the only one in the room who had no clue. Suffice it to say that if I have understood today … then I agree. D

    May 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    • Dave, I really appreciate your comment. You know there are lots of ways to read and analyze a poem. There isn’t one correct interpretation, and often we can discover things that the author may not have intended, but are nonetheless there. That’s why it’s so wonderful to read and reread, and squeeze and squeeze what we can out of it. Anyway, I hope what you found in the poem was meaningful to you, and that you enjoyed reading it as much as I do. 🙂

      May 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  2. I am curious to know how those bridges might know of each other…and what they might think of the other when they learn that they’re not alone. I like the selection to accompany the image, Lemony…well chosen.

    May 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

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