Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

With Wine

With Wine

By Maggie Anderson

Es war nicht in mir. Es ging aus und ein.
Da wolt itch es halten. Da hielt es der Wein.
—Rilke, “Das Lied Des Trinkers”

Now it is October, after harvest, and the fields fill up
with leaves and heavy rain. Someone has left our company
tonight and gone out to the dark pine forest where she
will drink alone in the rain. I do not want to laugh
at her as some do, speculating indiscreetly around
the dinner table, nor will I go out after her tonight
as the kind man putting on his jacket says he wants to.

I have been out there already many times myself,
because something frightened me in what was passing
by as witty talk, because I heard again my imaginary
friends, calling from my childhood in the voices
no one ever could believe, calling with cold comfort
in the wine. Or I have gone because I know it is a time
of war, or nearly war, and there is nothing I can do.

I have run, as she will, from those who called me
to come back. I have staggered out to sit alone
on mossy rocks with wine and study the division
in branches of the trees, too sensible they seemed
to me, uninteresting, like pleats I hadn’t planned on
in the sky, even though I might invent them into stars.

It is always nearly time of war. Tonight, because
I know she’s out there, I don’t have to be. She does
our work alone as I sit warm and calm beside the fire,
certain she is busy, following the blur of pines
out into the fields, tracking down our burdens:
everything that holds us and what we lose with wine,
what we think we have to gather in all by ourselves.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Winter 1985), p. 93


Maggie Anderson

Maggie Anderson is an American poet and editor with roots in Appalachia. She is the author of several poetry collections, including, most recently, Windfall: New and Selected Poems. She is the founder and editor of the Wick Poetry First Book Series and the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series for Ohio Poets at Kent State University.

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