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Bitterness Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 7

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Here in February, the fine

dark branches of the almond

begin to sprout tiny clusters

of leaves, sticky to the touch.

Not far off, about the length

of my morning shadow, the grass

is littered with the petals

of the plum that less than

a week ago blazed, a living

candle in the hand of earth.

I was living far off two years

ago, fifteen floors above

119th Street when I heard

a love of my young manhood

had died mysteriously in

a public ward. I did not

go out into the streets to

walk among the cold, sullen

poor of Harlem, I did not

turn toward the filthy window

to question a distant pale sky.

I did not do anything.

The grass is coming back, some

patches already bright, though

at this hour still silvered

with dew. By noon I can stand

sweating in the free air, spading

the difficult clay for the bare

roots of a pear or apple that

will give flower and fruit longer

than I care to think about.


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