April 22: The Pond by Jim Powell

Jim Powell, a poet of California, has recently joined the Knopf family at our sister imprint, Pantheon, with a collection entitled Substrate. Powell’s attention to the landscape and our place in it is crisply honed, as in today’s selection, “The Pond.” The poem is part of a series in which various feathered creatures and thoughts on the wing fly out of what Powell calls “the muses’ birdcage,” a phrase from the ancient Greek philosopher and poet Timon of Phlius.

The Pond

On the back way
there are planks laid
across the swampy places,
jet black loam where water
pools in the dents,

a place on the path
I double back to
and catch myself returning
mirrored in a sheet
of water, the world

doubled back
in the glassy pool:
wind animates the leaves
and the glint shaken from them
winks flickering

in the pond dreaming
at the secret center
past the last screen
of ferns and creepers, bramble

and periphrastic
evasions this place
a steady witness for
the rehearsal of a ghostly
life in signs

and tokens, clairvoyant
the way dreams
betray us to ourselves
in a changeling masquerade

another nature
another self
to read in the face there
in the water till reflection
troubles the mirror.

Purchase a signed edition of Substrate.

More about Substrate

About Jim Powell

Meet Jim Powell in California later this month.