June 2006

D. Nurkse


D Nurkse D. Nurkse is the author of eight books of poetry, including Burnt Island (Knopf, 2005) and The Fall (Knopf, 2002). He has recent work in Best American Poetry 2005 and The Times Literary Supplement. He teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.
Return To Underhill Road    Click to hear in real audio

Strangers live in huge cities,
they get married, they love each other,
it scares them how they love each other,
it happens in words, in signs,
and also somewhere else,
a place they can't reach—

so we drive home from the airport
in the great heat and the domino players
hunch over their card tables
at the corner of Euclid and Gates.

A woman wrings a shirt from a high window.
Two children are locked in a game,
one teetering in a thrower's stance,
one staring at a cloud, open-mouthed:

everything wants to wake up,
water gushes from hydrants,
the frisbees would love to glide
straight out of the frisbee dream
as out of a frame in the comics—

so we negotiate the rusty locks,
undress each other, lie naked,
our bodies are the great roads,
but it happens somewhere else—
in the dead rainbows of spilt oil,
in the hauteur of twilight clouds,
the desire of passing cars
to reach their unknown destination,

while the child in the next room
swathed in her crib
makes every sign in every alphabet
and sings every sound in every language
until it will become a story—

two rooms, one marriage,
this trance, happiness.



The Walnut    Click to hear in real audio

  Translations of medieval French riddles

What never was and never shall be?
—Mouse nest in cat's ear.

Passes over woods and leaves no shadow?
—Tolling bell.

Dead and still dances?
—Winter oakleaf.

Sings going down, cries coming home?
—Bucket in the well.

Frayed, unraveling,
but the needle never passed here?
—A cloudy sky.

Flounce, flicker,
red rose in midair?
—A man walking with a lantern.

Four litte thighs in bed
with a zigzag in the middle?

Round as a ducat
and faster than a horseman?

We don't see it and it undoes us?

Source: Tresor de la Poesie Populaire Francaise, Claude Roy, Plon, Paris, 1997.



D. Nurkse: Poetry
Copyright ©2006 The Cortland Review Issue 32The Cortland Review