'Our Sole Defense Against the Season'

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Storm.jpg


I copped Adrienne Rich's The Fact Of A Door Frame, back at Howard. Truthfully, I couldn't really get into it. But this poem always stuck with me. I went back and re-read it this morning, and I think I'm going to give Adrienne Rich another shot. Sometimes the poem has to wait on its audience. Poem after the jump. The picture is Pierre-Auguste Cot's "The Storm." I saw it at the Met the summer before last. I haven't been back in a while. It's so hard to get clear.


Storm Warnings

The glass has been falling all the afternoon, 
And knowing better than the instrument 
What winds are walking overhead, what zone 
Of grey unrest is moving across the land, 
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair 
And walk from window to closed window, watching 
Boughs strain against the sky

And think again, as often when the air 
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting, 
How with a single purpose time has traveled 
By secret currents of the undiscerned 
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad 
And weather in the heart alike come on 
Regardless of prediction.

Between foreseeing and averting change 
Lies all the mastery of elements 
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter. 
Time in the hand is not control of time, 
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument 
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise, 
We can only close the shutters.

I draw the curtains as the sky goes black 
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass 
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine 
Of weather through the unsealed aperture. 
This is our sole defense against the season; 
These are the things we have learned to do 
Who live in troubled regions.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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