Jean Valentine - Break the Glass
For years, I had only one book by Jean Valentine, a hardback of Ordinary Things, that I got sometime in the mid 80s. I didn’t know much about her except for that book, which meant a lot to me.
Sometime in the 90s, she was suddenly everywhere. Her work was still interesting and I enjoyed catching up with her catalogue, but still, Ordinary Things was the book for me.
At AWP, I picked up a hardback of her newest book, Break the Glass, and I had a wonderful time reading it on the long trip home. It’s the first time I’ve read a book straight through in years.
It’s dedicated to Kate and Max Greenstreet, and that just adds to its charm, as I know Kate and Max as well. They’re very deserving of having a book dedicated to them, and I’m quite happy to see it’s this one.
I was working
I was working on cleaning up a house
before I left it.
The longest work every year was Clean the house
before we moved.
The mother as a child was always moving,
who knows why.
I, said the fly.
With my little eye.
If I clean up this house here long enough,
I can leave it.
But leave the eye next to where I
put my house, this way, that way—
“As with rosy steps the morn”
In memory of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
on the other side of the earth
standing upside down, listening,
Everyone on the reverse of the picture
on the other side of the measuring eye
The five notes, slowly, over & over,
and with some light intent,
And the whole air,
no edge, no center,
And the light so thin, so fast—
Don’t listen to the words—
they’re only little shapes for what you’re saying,
they’re only cups if you’re thirsty, you aren’t thirsty.