3 Poems by Carolyn L. Tipton


            Have you noticed, Platero,
            how the monarch butterflies
            come to rest upon the leaves
            only when they have fallen
            from the branch–
            only when their color
            has come to be, at last,
            the color of the butterflies’
            own dark-orange wings?


            Platero, what can I write today?
            The red leaves against the blue sky
            are their own poem.


            Do you know the point, Platero,
            at which leaves become flames?
            I have been watching this tree for months now.
            I have watched its leaves lose green
            to discover gold,
            I have seen red and orange colors appear among the branches
            like exotic birds,
            I have watched the tree begin to draw the light to itself,
            leaving the sky bereft and grey,
            that the sun might cease to be a single star
            and come to be a thousand candles in its leaves,
            and now, Platero, just today, I saw the tree
            and it seemed to me to blaze with new blossoms:
            flowers of fire.

*Platero (whose name means “silversmith” in Spanish) is the silver-grey Andalusian donkey to whom the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez addresses the prose poems in his book, Platero y yo.


Sometimes in the very late afternoon,
you can feel the presence of the stars,
invisible in the moment.
Sometimes whole parts of years
seem to possess
this potential for radiance
which remains hidden; the days
grow heavy with it.
Sometimes your weeks seem to be about
until it grows dark enough
for the light to begin streaming out.


I shall vanish and be no more,
But the land over which I now roam
Shall remain
And change not.    (The Winged Serpent, ed Margot Astrov)

The star-flow
in the lake of night
will always be reflected,
as my face
shall not;
when my hair
turns the color of
the moon on snow
then shall I go
with the passing
of winter’s geese.

About the contributor

Carolyn L. Tipton
Carolyn L. Tipton teaches at U.C. Berkeley. Her first book, To Painting: Poems by Rafael Alberti, won the National Translation Award. Her second book of translated poems by Alberti, Returnings: Poems of Love and Distance, won the Cliff Becker Translation Prize. Her third book, The Poet of Poet Laval is published by Salmon Poetry.

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