Evening

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Evening

I walk out into air
too soft for fall.
It catches the hillside
in its net; I think of the filmy scarfs
old ladies wore when I was small
to shield their permanents.

It catches me too,
as if I were a tendril that might stray
from some cosmic ‘do
if given half the chance.

And I would.
The insides of my days,
so clockworked, cog-clogged–permanently, so it seems–
that even the caress of this weather is at first a heaviness
to be slogged through.

The ladies hurtled in their scarves
from door to door, car to church, store to kitchen, knots tied
beneath chins, whirls of tease and tame
perseveringly preserved–

How much I owe them, I tell myself, grass pressed damp
against my shins, then wonder what
exactly–this tangled mop, these clumsy boots, the insistence
that I should at least feel
worthy of love.

In the veiled reds,
greyed golds, so much leave-
taking–at the end, the scarf was worn simply
against cold, white strands loose
on pillow–the air too soft
for fall–I walk out in it.

*************************************
This is very much of a draft poem for Kerry O’Connor’s terrific prompt on Real Toads to try to write something influenced by Denise Levertov. I had read very little Levertov before the prompt, and I cannot say how this is influenced by her work, only that I read several poems and then came up with this. I really don’t think it’s “there” yet, but there it is. I am also linking to the open link nights of  With Real Toads and dVerse Poets Pub.  

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42 Comments on “Evening”


  1. as if I were a tendril that might stray from some cosmic ‘do if given half the chance.
    I love the way you incorporate the scarves – I remember my Mom and her friends wearing scarves…and the expectations for women then… don’t know if this was your intent.
    I looked Denise Levertov up when the prompt came out and read a little of her work. I think you have done her style justice.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, that was my intent, though almost going back to my grandmother, who, of course, was old when I was young. I was a bit all over the map! Thanks very much. k.


  2. quite beautiful just as it is.

  3. brian miller Says:

    nice…i wore my scarf today..one of them…you would think it such a strange thing for men to wear a scarf by the reactions…to feel worthy of love…a huge line that for me as it is something i think we all struggle with at times….and cog clogged days, i know them well…as well…working on paperwork tonight…blech

  4. claudia Says:

    this is dense with emotions…that’s the first thing that jumped at me..the carefully or maybe very intuitively chosen images that each give room to think beyond a bit..to put ourselves out there…


  5. Karin, I love the combination of emotion, reverie, wordplay, and color in this poem. So much going on, and your memories of the ladies in their scarves brought back some pleasant pictures for me. The line, “the air too soft for fall,” touched me deeply. Thx for stopping by and commenting on my blog as well… lovely work! Amy

  6. koniramm Says:

    I became an older lady with long, witchy hair to avoid being one of those ladies who sat in the beauty parlour with her hair in rollers, then stiffly hair sprayed and covered with a scarf.
    I enjoy the feel of a fall day in your poem.


  7. Karin, this is gorgeous – love the repetition of ‘soft’, so effective … 🙂

  8. Jamie Dedes Says:

    I haven’t read enough of Levertov to know if it reflects but I do know I enjoyed this … I remember those ladies and their scarves too. 🙂

  9. janehewey Says:

    i love the tendril, the soft air, the juxtaposition they create with your cogged life. I remember those scarves, those women. Their tasks seemingly as worthy as the hair preservation. Compelling poem, k.

  10. hedgewitch Says:

    I don’t think it’s either over- or under-, k. Some poems need to be longer to say everything they have to say–this has a quiet, easy flow, full of quick captures that translate almost instantly in the mind. I wouldn’t want it any shorter. I especially love the rhythm and images in the first stanza being repeated and embellished as the poem goes on, like irregular but consistent paisleys on those filmy scarves, which always reminded me of hot air balloons over the bouffant pouffes those ladies wore. Really neatly and lavishly done at once, k, and full of a sense of continuity between us and them, summer and fall, despite differences.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks– I did not want to overstate things somehow – there are these connections, and not. The first version was simpler and probably more likeable as more sentimental, but then the sentimentality (and intervening depression) got to me and I made it more complicated and a little less satisfying in the end. Maybe sometime put up earlier version just to compare.

  11. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    As I began to read, I thought how much your lines reminded me of Levertov’s work. The connection between day to day life and nature really strikes me here, and the kind of poetic voice which questions one’s place in the world – be it the consciousness of fashion or the sense that one is more than a mere individual.

  12. Mary Says:

    Oh how I remember those scarves…the uniform of so many of a certain age at one time or another. Quite a poignant poem.

  13. Waltermarks Says:

    There is just soooo much imagery here. It’s so deep, full of emotions, very rich.

  14. Colin Morgan Says:

    I like the air made scarf – works for me… interesting imagery,

  15. grapeling Says:

    K, beautiful imagery. I remember my mom wearing those scarves.

  16. Susan Chast Says:

    I like how you first bring up the kerchief as a soft air-net over the hills. Everything else stems from this image–the narrator becoming a stray lock of hair caught in the same net and needing instead an escape from permanent order…. and those ladies too escaped, hurtling, white locks on … so worthy …. I don’t want my comment to be a spoiler, but I must say you created a mighty poem here! I especially love the way stanzas 4 and 5 escape a little like the locks of hair, an airy wind through your poem linking past and present. Wow.


  17. You make me want to go and take a look at Levertov’s work–But I must say that this is some of my favorite writing of your ever–just gorgeous and so full of emotion–in all the great ways that poetry can be both–

  18. Laurie Kolp Says:

    So much to love about this, Karin… but this especially blew me away-

    I walk out into air
    too soft for fall.
    It catches the hillside
    in its net

  19. Rowan Taw Says:

    Oh yes, I also remember these ladies in their scarves – wonderfully expressed!

  20. MarinaSofia Says:

    I’m not familiar with Levertov, so I cannot tell if you have succeeded in that respect, but I do love the poem: that feeling of nostalgia, the softness of the air and the memory…

  21. Steve King Says:

    Fall is the season that most seems to insinuate itself into the year, gradually doing away with August and September. I remember so well the pictures of women you paint, the scarves, and always hats in church…there was a kind of certainty, or at least a framework for certainty that came with fulfilling expectations…Much depth and emotion in this. Fine writing. No need to visit back–nothing new from me this week.


  22. Found this to be a superb verse. What jumped out at me are these lines.

    “And I would.
    The insides of my days,
    so clockworked, cog-clogged–permanently, so it seems–
    that even the caress of this weather is at first a heaviness
    to be slogged through.”

    Reading them transported me to that ” another time, another place” poem of W.H. Davies.

    WHAT is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare?—
    No time to stand beneath the boughs,
    And stare as long as sheep and cows:

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

    No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance:

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began?

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    Shakti


  23. Good job on that prompt! I loved the imagery and remember those scarves too. I too am a wild hair out of place in comparison.


  24. What a great description of those ladies .. And how memories came back.

  25. ayala Says:

    A beautiful poem, Karin. I enjoyed it.

  26. vbholmes Says:

    “The insides of my days,
    so clockworked, cog-clogged–permanently, so it seems–
    that even the caress of this weather is at first a heaviness
    to be slogged through.” So graphic. Your treatment of the season is successful, as well as your depiction of the ladies in their scarves. Very nice.


  27. “In the veiled reds,
    greyed golds, so much leave-
    taking–at the end, the scarf was worn simply
    against cold, ”

    I really enjoyed reading this, or rather where this poem took me too–back to a different time, a simplicity preserved in the silk of an old scarf. Have not read Denise Levertov, but really liked this lovely piece.

  28. shanyns Says:

    My grandma wore those scarves, and they looked so soft and were very rough. Your poem really brought back memories of her, and I cherish that. Thank you.

  29. Margaret Says:

    This poem makes me feel like I’ve held hands with you and gone for a walk. If all walks would have such reflection, pondering, sense of peace – even thought all the “problems’ aren’t solved. I also like the “taking me back” to a different time element that plays out in this. Very nice as is. I was unable to read that challenge yet as I had all six kids home – I hope to be able to soon.


  30. This is a very lovely piece of writing. I especially resonated with “I should at least feel worthy of love”. Oh yes, we struggle with our worthiness. Loved this poem!


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