Repair

Repair

by C. K. Williams

Paperback(First Edition)

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Overview

Nominated for the National Book Award—The eighth book by one of our greatest poets

"Always, "These gigantic inconceivables."
Always, "What will have been done to me?"
And so we don our mental armor,
flex, thrill, pay the strict attention we always knew we should.
A violent alertness, the muscularity of risk,
though still the secret inward cry: What else, what more?"
—from "Risk"

Repair is body work in C. K. Williams's sensual poems, but it is also an imaginative treatment of the consternations that interrupt life's easy narrative. National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Williams keeps the self in repair despite love, death, social disorder, and the secrets that separate and join intimates. These forty poems experiment with form but maintain what Alan Williamson has heralded Williams for having so steadily developed from French influences: "the poetry of the sentence."

Repair is a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry and the winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374527068
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 06/15/2000
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 828,024
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.19(d)

About the Author

C. K. Williams (1936–2015) published twenty-two books of poetry including, Flesh and Blood, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; Repair, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; and The Singing, winner of the National Book Award. Williams was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2005. He wrote a critical study, On Whitman; a memoir, Misgivings; and two books of essays, Poetry and Consciousness and In Time: Poets, Poems, and the Rest.

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One

ICE


That astonishing thing that happens when you crack a needle-awl into a
        block of ice:
the way a perfect section through it crazes into gleaming fault-lines,
        fractures, facets;
dazzling silvery deltas that in one too-quick-to-capture instant madly
        complicate the cosmos of its innards.
Radiant now with spines and spikes, aggressive barbs of glittering light, a
        treasure hoard of light,
when you stab it again it comes apart in nearly equal segments, both
        faces grainy, gnawed at, dull.


An icehouse was a dark, low place of raw, unpainted wood,
always dank and black with melting ice.
There was sawdust and sawdust's tantalizing, half-sweet odor, which, so
        cold, seemed to pierce directly to the brain.
You'd step onto a low-roofed porch, someone would materialize,
take up great tongs and with precise, placating movements like a lion-tamer's
        slide an ice-block from its row.


Take the awl yourself now, thrust, and when the block splits do it again,
        yet again;
watch itdisassemble into smaller fragments, crystal after fissured crystal.
Or if not the puncturing pick, try to make a metaphor, like Kafka's
        frozen sea within:
take into your arms the cake of actual ice, make a figure of its ponderous
        inertness,
of how its quickly wetting chill against your breast would frighten you
        and make you let it drop.

Imagine how even if it shattered and began to liquefy
the hope would still remain that if you quickly gathered up the slithery,
        perversely skittish chips,
they might be refrozen and the mass reconstituted, with precious little of
        its brilliance lost,
just this lucent shimmer on the rough, raised grain of water-rotten floor,
just this single drop, as sweet and warm as blood, evaporating on your
        tongue.


THE TRAIN


Stalled an hour beside a row of abandoned, graffiti-stricken factories,
the person behind me talking the whole while on his portable phone,
every word irritatingly distinct, impossible to think of anything else,
I feel trapped, look out and see a young hare moving through the sooty
        scrub;
just as I catch sight of him, he turns with a start to face us, and freezes.


Sleek, clean, his flesh firm in his fine-grained fur, he's very endearing;
he reminds me of the smallest children on their way to school in our
        street,
their slouchy, unself-conscious grace, the urge you feel to share their
        beauty,
then my mind plays that trick of trying to go back into its wilder part,
to let the creature know my admiration, and have him acknowledge me.


All the while we're there, I long almost painfully out to him,
as though some mystery inhabited him, some semblance of the sacred,
but if he senses me he disregards me, and when we begin to move
he still waits on the black ballast gravel, ears and whiskers working,
to be sure we're good and gone before he continues his errand.


The train hurtles along, towns blur by, the voice behind me hammers
        on;
it's stifling here but in the fields the grasses are stiff and white with
        rime.
Imagine being out there alone, shivers of dread thrilling through you,
those burnished rails before you, around you a silence, immense,
        stupendous,
only now beginning to wane, in a lift of wind, the deafening creaking of
        a bough.

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