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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


During my first residency at VCCA (January 2011), I discovered the magical serendipity of that wonderful place. On a bookshelf in my studio I found an old issue of The New Yorker that contained a piece about the contemporary composer John Luther Adams.

That piece inspired me to write the following “January poem” while there. I ordered several of his CDs and a book and have enjoyed them all!

It's the title poem of my 2013 collection from Mountains and Rivers Press, The Resonance Around Us. _______________

The Resonance Around Us

As we walk through this field, coarse grasses vibrate around our ankles. Listen, we are already in the sky, its rising glissando trembling in the hollows of our bones—our bones that might be wind chimes hanging from the trees, clattering like a hard rain.

Tonight it will snow, each crystal a tuning fork for the other, each of our upturned faces echoing the quiet ticking flakes that home on us.

Even those things we deem silent—dead weeds nodding by the barn, the piles the horses drop as they drift through the pasture, steam rising from each before it cools—even these are singing in their spheres.

Listen, and you might hear the choir of atoms, those unseen constellations that make flesh, flickering on and off as they resonate with the dead who float beside us, their substance oscillating faster than we apprehend.

Just now some bird that knows the notes of twilight opened its beak to offer a brief harmony, and as the dark descends in solemn chords, a chorus of plum clouds begins to hum on Earth’s horizon.

© 2013 Penny Harter. From *The Resonance Around Us* (Mountains & Rivers Press)

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