752. The Visitor, by Naomi Replansky

This day a simple day
that comes for a visit
that comes to sit quiet.

Yet I in such small grace
receive my visitor.
I watch it narrowly
and wonder, Friend or foe?
I ransack it for weapons
then question it with passion:
What message? What message?

But this is a mute and unassuming day.

And is a good guest
and brings small gifts.
I must learn again to give it welcome.

Source: Collected Poems

753. You Reading This, Be Ready, by William Stafford

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life—

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems

754. Prairie Spring, by Willa Cather

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and somber and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long, empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire;
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

Source: Stories, Poems, and Other Writings

755. In the Harbor-Town, by Constantine Cavafy

Emis—young, twenty-eight—
reached this Syrian harbor in a Tenian ship,
his plan to learn the incense trade.
But ill during the voyage,
he died as soon as he was put ashore.
His burial, the poorest possible, took place here.
A few hours before dying he whispered something
about “home,” about “very old parents.”
But nobody knew who they were,
or what country he called home
in the great panhellenic world.
Better that way; because as it is,
though he lies buried in this harbor-town,
his parents will always have the hope he’s still alive.

(trans Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

Source: Collected Poems