Of Politics, & ArtHere, on the farthest point of the peninsulaThe winter stormOff the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.Mrs. Whitimore, dyingOf tuberculosis, said it would be after darkBefore the snowplow and bus would reach us.She read to us from Melville.How in an almost calamitous momentOf sea huntingSome men in an open boat suddenly found themselvesAt the still and protected centerOf a great herd of whalesWhere all the females floated on their sidesWhile their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalersJust stared into what they allowedWas the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow'sOne visible eyeball.And they were at peace with themselves.Today I listened to a woman sayThat Melville mightBe taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, "And why not?"The first responded, "Because there areNo women in his one novel."And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.There was a blue light on her face, breasts and arms.Sometimes a whole civilization can be dyingPeacefully in one young woman, in a small heated roomWith thirty childrenRapt, confident and listening to the pureGod rendering voice of a storm.
Dubie, Norman. "Of Politics, & Art" The Best American Poetry 1990. Don Mills: Collier Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1990.