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Angela Patten – Evening Light At Oakledge

Patten profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Angela Patten is author of three poetry collections, In Praise of Usefulness (Wind Ridge Books), Reliquaries and Still Listening, both from Salmon Poetry, Ireland, and a prose memoir, High Tea at a Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood (Wind Ridge Books). Her work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry Ireland Review, Nimrod International Journal, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Green Mountains Review, and Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont. In 2016 she received a National Poetry Prize from the Cape Cod Cultural Center for a single poem. She has presented readings at home and abroad, including The Limerick Writers’ Centre, Dingle Bookshop, County Kerry, Word Portland, Maine, The Frost Place, New Hampshire, and at various locations around Vermont. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Angela now lives in Burlington, Vermont. She is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Vermont English Department.


Evening Light At Oakledge

“Nothing gold can stay.” Robert Frost

But I love the soft gold light
of summer evenings, a slight breeze
swaying the tall grass, dark trees
nameless in the distance.

The city plans to let this meadow
return to forest to fulfill
some worthy ecological goal.

But I will mourn this horizon line
of yellow ochre hazy in the heat,
purple clover underfoot,
timothy and touch-me-not alive
with creatures rustling and lamenting
in their own strange languages.

Small birds dart back and forth
conducting their inscrutable errands,
uttering sounds we can never translate
for all our deft mnemonics—
teacher teacher, peter peter, pretty girl

A sparkle in the corner of my eye
might be a beer-can. No matter.
I prefer the gauzy goldleaved long shot
to the unkind clarity of the close-up.

Tonight I might have stayed inside
morose, immune to wonder.
This evening’s light would have shone
with or without an audience
like a poet who keeps on writing
even if no one comes to sit
on those hard folding chairs,
emits inarticulate embarassing groans,
then rushes up at the end to say
she really really liked your work.

The Place Where Poetry Happens

Sometimes it is an aviary echoing bird calls
or a concert-hall with a Steinway Grand,
a jazz club in the city with a tiny stage,
an upright bass, candles crammed
in Chianti bottles on the tables, couples
holding hands, half-listening to the music.

Sometimes I am invited in to listen
to a line or two, perhaps a wisp of dream
or glint of something shiny that swam up
from the depths into the net of memory,
turned and flicked its tail, swam out again.
But left an image that will unfurl
like a water lily, or a series of words
primed to explode on contact with the ear.


© Angela Patten