Two poems by Emily Grosholz

“Uncertain” and “Escondido in the Rain”


“Someone who, dreaming, says “I am dreaming,” even if he speaks audibly in doing so, is no more correct than if he said in his dream, “It is raining,” while in fact it was raining. Even if his dream were actually connected with the sound of the rain.”
(The final lines of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s
On Certainty.)

  • Four o’clock: still night and silence.
  • I hear one local bird practice a trill,
  • Then silence falls again.
  • Why did it sing?
  • Are birds like us misled
  • By false dawn? By a dream
  • Of moonrise? Ever roused, eyestruck
  • By rays of moonlight?
  • We cannot say its song
  • Was caused by the moon rising,
  • Even if it dreamed
  • The moon, as the moon rose.
  • In any case, darkness prevails.
  • A mystery, unless I too
  • Dreamed the bird, its trill, the pale
  • Ruse of moonlight.

Escondido in the Rain

  • Dark green and brown, skin-deep.
  • These streets that mostly shine
  • With heat mirages, cloud with fumes,
  • Today are hard to recognize in
  • Distances so clean and so opaque,
  • And new blades shot from sand.
  • What demons of impersonal lust
  • And cruelty have shaken down
  • Over this tropic, next-to-desert town,
  • All the local papers tell.
  • Rain or shine, the border traffic runs
  • Souls and guns and nicotine and crack.
  • Escondido thirty years ago
  • Under the wing of Palomar and stars
  • So magnified, was just a grid
  • Of streets connecting sleepy orchards,
  • Housing a thousand-odd enlisted men,
  • Mormans, Okies, Mexicanos, you.
  • Now laid open by a quarter
  • Million moving-van Americans
  • Hunting for winter sun, pacific beaches,
  • Stasis sometimes interrupted by
  • Earthquake’s phantom passing train
  • That hoots the timid east again.
  • Like you and me, unsettled by the way
  • Earth moves underfoot, our hopes
  • Damped by the usual inane
  • Heartbreak of inlaws, outlaws, theatre
  • Neither comic nor tragic. And the rain
  • Runneling down the diamondback of palms.

Emily Grosholz has taught philosophy at Penn State, and also served as an advisory editor and contributor to The Hudson Review, for over 30 years. Her seventh book of poetry, Childhood, was published in 2014 by Accents Publishing (with drawings by Lucy Vines) and has raised over $2000 in sales for UNICEF.

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