Pat’s Latest Book

from Oxford University Press

how the light

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Listen to Pat read her poem “Truth Enough”:

How much hair do I have? you ask,
sitting straight upon the kitchen stool.
I circle you, cut the fine filigree
silver over your ear.

I tell you the truth: Enough.
There is an echo at the edges of the word
which is the lie: Why, love, you still
have lots and lots of hair!

I have always told you the truth.
Even when you didn’t want to know it,
not all of it, I mean, and if I had my life
to live again from the beginning, all
those choices, I might pick kindness
more, let truth alone to ripen on the tree.

But it is your hair I am cutting
on this ordinary afternoon,
and I am making love,
the circle of white on the kitchen floor
an aura. How black, how thick your hair
was! How in the steamy kitchen,
four children underfoot, grapes picked
for jelly tumbled in the collander, fruit jars
hot, baked bread sliced to steaming slabs
and everywhere outside the crimson leaves
falling — there in that confusion,
did I cut your hair?

Today the house is silent. Leaves fall,
but they do not seem to clatter
red against the gold the way they used to do.

Our children watch us delicately from portraits
on the wall. After all,
you say, how much hair do I have?

Enough, I say. I don’t want to talk.
There is an aura on the kitchen floor,
and I am making love.
~Pat Schneider, from Another River: New and Selected Poems

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