Friday, June 26, 2009

"Ritual at Dusk"

I discovered "Ritual at Dusk" is also up--I'm grateful to The Daily Palette (out of Iowa) for posting it this month ( This poem originally appeared in 1998 in the print journal 100 Words, edited by Carolyn Brown; this particular volume took poems (limited of course to 100 words) on the theme "Garden" and featured poetry by writers attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop, visiting writers attending the International Writing Program and others.

Seeing "Ritual" again acutely brought back those cool Iowa City evenings...the crows in the poem were settling in a tree outside of poet Jocelyn Emerson's apartment as, after yet another rambling discussion about our work, we parted ways. She to work on early drafts of what would become “As Slightly As the Routes of Stars” with its luminous images, “A week before she died,/I dreamed we were rowing./She pulled with an oar of light/wood” along with other beautiful sea meditations later published in Sea Gate.

And I, to my high-ceilinged room at Black’s Gaslight Village in the quiet, expansive life of a grad student (before the birth of my daughter, in the days before... “My world shrunk to the size of her [infant] body” as Nora Okja Keller so aptly writes in You’ll Get Used to It from the collection Mothers Who Think: Tales of real-life parenthood edited by Camille Peri and Kate Moses of Salon Magazine). I wouldn't change the experience of having had my world so reduced--to circle the needs of a newborn--but as my youngest inches towards 4, I can afford to look at the stars again.

And, after all these years, I have to right a line from "Ritual at Dusk" could it matter to leave out "to?" But, you know how poets can be...

Odd flowers

who remember their stems at dusk,
and only to sleep, immaculately folded.

There...that's how it should I can sleep.


Liz Brennan said...

Tania I love this poem. You have captured the image so well of that time when the world is dark yet the sky is illuminated. I particularly enjoyed the last line "releasing the limb tips to the light".

Tania Pryputniewicz said...


Thank you...remember those BK days when one noticed the birds and the sky?! (I think you are there...I'm right behind you). I aspire to rise early like you...