A Day This Lit
by Howard Levy
Foreword by Baron Wormser
Howard Levy’s A Day This Lit plays with a light in nature that is close to the bone, and the human psyche’s relationship to art; but this wonderful collection also penetrates light’s other side, its twin — darkness — to celebrate the mystery of things. These well- made poems go deep. —Yusef Kommunyakaa
Levy’s evocation of Mozart’s musical pieces and his life and times are uncanny in their ability to portray in words the gift of feelings that reside in the world of pure sound…This is a remarkable imaginative accomplishment… Levy can segue in the course of three poems from Kabbalism to “Joe Adcock, Power Hitter of the Braves” to some letters from Mozart to Haydn… threading the poems is an unashamed humanity, a willingness to look scrupulously and yet rejoice in the small and large mysteries…This book has poems that are keepers, poems that can look in the face of time without flinching. —Baron Wormser
A Day This Lit is a book that travels in shafts of light. It turns in its own currents and illuminations; it offers us a landscape – actual, emotional, ideational – that resembles the brilliant, liquid structures of music…This most luminous of landscapes, this book so filled with sun and elegance, is also rounded by suffering, doubt and loss. These substantial shadows haunt the lit world that works constantly, and almost successfully, to transform them. The result is a book both glittering and severe, a book that I read with great pleasure and great admiration. —Lynn Emanuel
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
HOWARD LEVY has been a teacher in museums and schools in New York and now works in business. He was the recipient of a New York State Creative Artists Public Service Award in Poetry and his poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review and The Threepenny Review. He has been a member of the resident faculty at The Frost Place Poetry Festival. He lives in New York with his wife and two sons.
The shape of your womb
is how I learned to tilt my head
when listening hard, when taking in.
Your legs, one slightly shorter
than the other (not enough to limp
but enough to sculpt the muscles
of your back and tense your walk),
took me through my first meringue,
taught those small refinements
of sway and balance
and life spread over me
simply, cell by new cell,
as light spreads over a shadow,
lessons of pace,
lessons of patience
A dream that you are talking.
You hold a peach and tell me
about the luxuries of shopgirls.
1943. Lord & Taylor, the lingerie
and nylon counter. Twenty,
no soldier to worry over yet plenty
to meet, the jewelry of the jitterbug
and free to stay in the city overnight.
You phrase it, the shiny black satin
of becoming a woman.
How quiet we are, the two of us.
Each reading in our favorite
chairs, the rainy afternoon
moving toward dusk and
the making of dinner.
I am proud to chop the onions
and peel the eggs.
I will earn a small piece of cake,
though not enough to ruin my appetite.
How the afternoon we made
And yet such a loneliness chipped at you,
such a bleakness, as if everything
were too narrow,
people, ease, and the coronation
of desire, so that each day the loneliness
broke off some small edge of self
until the small, ruined abbey
of your heart lost its body’s faithful.
In the hospital,
your legs elephantine with water
growing larger into your death
and my father and I
growing smaller and smaller,
unable to talk directly and honestly to you,
as if you were not
a dying woman
we both loved.
This first deep cold day of winter,
the air with no sense of forgiveness.
I clear some last leaves from your grave.
In a few weeks, it will be seven years.
Your grandsons are growing well.
It is so cold, and here in this cemetery,
I imagine that you bear me
once again toward the vastness of future,
while I remember and bear you back
into this tiny present, this brief
regency of noise and light.