While I know no poem in the language greater than Gerard Manley Hopkins's "The Wreck of the Deutschland," and confess a supremely warm spot for Joyce Kilmer's cozy but forgotten "The 12:45," a favorite is this sonnet by Millay from her collection Fatal Interview.
The snow in North Dakota asks a question with no question mark, no capital letter, to indicate where it begins and ends or what lies in the middle, for that matter. The question is white and drifts above the cab of the snowplow while in its orange light people lean into the wind along the curb, digging out cars that vanish in the night.
At home their dogs are silent, hearing no sound. The cattle huddle and freeze, and buffalo crossing the buried fence, free now to roam, stand silver and stiff as nickels in the dawn— eyes frozen wide and blank as if they tried to comprehend the question while they died.
“When you pray, go into your room,” He said, so each green dawn as spring light stirs, I sit, womb-snug, in my small room, hushed high above unfurling leaves, with Luke who’s all of five days new, but solid as a loaf of bread, and, oh, such wisdom; petal-soft, in and out, I hear his breath. Receive. Release. That’s all there is. Just this. Quiet. Nothing more.
We’re here to gather evidence, to find The DNA—or at least to lift the finger- prints of Deity. A treasure hunt With clues craftily concealed, but there Nevertheless. If clouds drifting dreamily Across the moon’s congested face won’t do, Or waves that threaten passion in the Higher sense, beyond a Category Five, make you shrug, consider numbers, Counting to infinity. Boot up Your Apple, and see how many zeroes it Can prophesy. Click a remote: note How mice, unwired, can still point To sites unmentioned in the manual. Divide three into ten, and claim eternity.