“Museum Piece” by Hayden Carruth

One of the things I love most about reading literary non-fiction is that the works become cryptic maps to other great works.  Thanks to Wendell Berry (WHAT ARE People FOR?, (1990)) for the introduction.

I’ve only just started exploring his works, but this one touched me deeply this morning.  Good poetry does that…touches you where you don’t know you are raw.

0327 poet 1-cny-by al campanie 3/27/97 poet Hayden Carruth stands outside an old barn on his property near Munnsville soaking up some spring time sunshine.

Museum Piece

The eye that made this saw no pallor,
But golden and blue paint;
Now on the dry wood the color
Is tenuous and faint.

Yet under the scratches our close study
Retrieves for our curious eyes
God raising the small from the larger body,
And there the new Eve lies.

Would we smile fondly in our pride?
Ours is a long descent,
Worked in the flesh of a tiny bride
Scarce fit for ravishment,

And she, discovering she was woman,
Measured her strength of will,
By which we estimate the human
And sorrow and courage still.

But listen.  Beneath the veiling scratches,
Time’s ancientest filigree,
Eve in a little girl’s voice beseeches
Someone to set her free.

Poem available originally available in The Crow and The Heart (1959) as well as in The Selected Poetry of Hayden Carruth (1985).

Want to learn more about the poet?  Read Hayden Carruth’s bio on the Poetry Foundation’s website