MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XVII No. 4
March/April 2005
Marginalization and Discrimination at MIT
MIT 2040
Academic Responsibility and Gender Bias
Summary Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on the Faculty Quality of Life
When Everything is Secret, There is No Truth
Professors of the Practice:
Bridging Industry and Academia
Goodbye To The Orchard; Singer
A Retrospective Look at
The Campaign for MIT
Improving the Graduate Student
Academic Experience
Making the Green Grade
MIT Retirement Programs
Satisfaction with resources that support research and teaching [from the 2004
Faculty Survey]
Printable Version

MIT Poetry

Steven Cramer


Beautiful from the get-go, we were
incarnations of the new, and pure sex.
I'll miss that, along with the unicorns.
The organic bower of our garden grew
into anybody's memory of a bed
or a mattress, in a shack near a lake.
Mistakes, like love, are to be made,
you said.  I hadn't thought of that.

That first autumn was easy, the liquor
of decay headiest at noon.  And the orchard,
let's face it, had begun to resemble a casino,
all its tables rigged in our favor.  The yoke
of being cared for is what cast us out,
not that immense, bearded librarian,
our curator, and not our having learned
how to get on one another's nerves.

Goodbye to the orchard:  green
one day, the next day blood.  We know
to stiffen at a voice; how to tell the truth
from an untruth; what's sweet, what stinks.
Behind each sleeping dog, another to let lie.
Who knew an innocence taking ages to perfect
could fall so short when time came to live?
You knew, and then you let me know.



I knew trouble and endured it,
grief and desire my companions.
In winter my enemy attacked.
The better of the two, I was bound
in rope made from my own sinew.
All that has passed, and so may this.

There was a man condemned to live
outside the city he loved – even death
meant less in exile – and a woman
who dreaded the child inside her.
Her dreams were dreams of drowning.
All that has passed, and so may this.

If the mind becomes a wolf's mind,
it will force misery on misery,
make cowards heroes.  If courtiers
want the kingdom overthrown, yet fail
to speak, they will remain courtiers.
All that has passed, and so may this.

At first doom sees, wherever it turns,
more doom. Then, in time:  joy.
I'll say this about myself:  my name
was a name you knew, and I sang
until another singer took my place.
All that has passed, and so will this.

   – after the Anglo-Saxon poem, "Deor"


Steven Cramer taught in MIT's Writing Program in 1983 and 1984, and in the Literature Division from 2000 to 2002.  He currently directs the MFA Creative Writing Program at Lesley University. His fourth poetry collection is Goodbye to the Orchard (Sarabande Books, 2004), from which these poems are reprinted with permission. He will read from his recent work on May 4, 5:30 p.m., in the PEN New England Poetry Reading Series at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge.

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