All the Little Clocks Wind Down; She Kept All These Things and Pondered Them in Her Heart; Incantation; & The Morning Will Be Bright, and Wrong


All the Little Clocks Wind Down


Now the blackberries in the yard 

have finished their work of fattening with juice. 

They wanted to flower, wrote Rilke, but we 

wanted to ripen. That meant being dark

and taking pains. Whatever the freight 

trains are carrying tonight is acrid, just 

sulphurous, and looking out at the bay, dull 

pewter, something feels over, that it’s all over, 

elsewhere, even the wind. A place is just

a place, innocent, but the mind makes it

palimpsest, makes now go back to then. 

I smoked a cigarette with him once on that corner, 

the two of us laughing or starting a fight. 

The two of us walking out of a movie theater 

or into a bar. We sat so happily together 

reading and not speaking at all, our arms or legs 

touching without either of us looking up. 

Tonight the waves arrive tremulous 

as a small voice breaking, almost defeated, 

that wants to be heard. The freight train interrupts 

with its blur of furtive cargo. Darkness, my name 

is Jennifer Grotz and I am almost ready to confess 

I was reckless and careless and selfish 

with my life. I am almost ready to see, 

I am almost ready to close my eyes and do 

what the darkness beckons, now that he 

is like a poem read by no one, now that I am 

like an illiterate desperate to understand, 

now that she is like a moth’s kiss on the pane

unfastening at my presence, now that 

I stare at water, at cloud, at sky, 

trying to see through to the other side.

For a good while it worked, this life 

I made, these poems that made 

wanting, not having, enough.


Jennifer Grotz’s most recent book of poems is Still Falling, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in May 2023. Her most recent book of translations is Everything I Don’t Know, selected poems of Jerzy Ficowski, co-translated from the Polish with Piotr Sommer (World Poetry Books, 2021). She teaches at the University of Rochester and directs the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences.