KR OnlinePoetry

The Tables Freed

From The Kenyon Review, New Series, Summer 1987, Vol. IX, No. 3

The presence of real objects is a nightmare for me. I have always overturned objects. A chair or a table turned upside down gives me peace and satisfaction.
      -Marc Chagall

A companionable flood can
make things wobble. The
sober table at last enjoys
the bubbles locked in her
grain, straining together
good as Egyptians to shift
the predictable plane.
Dense plates and books
slide off and dive or bloat
but she floats, a legged
boat nosing the helpless
stationaries, the bolted
basin, the metal reliquaries,
in short the nouns. All over
town tables are bumping
out of doors, negotiating
streets and beginning to
meet at water corners
like packs of mustangs,
blue red yellow stencilled
enlivened by swells as
wild horses are stretched
liquid and elegant by hills.

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Kay Ryan became the sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2008. Raised in the San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert, Ryan spent her professional career teaching English at College of Marin in Kentfield, California and writing poems. Her collections have earned numerous awards, including a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and several Pushcart Prizes. Her books include Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983), Strangely Marked Metal (1985), Elephant Rocks (1996) and Say Uncle (2000).