Elizabeth Bishop: “It is marvelous to wake up together…”
It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
to feel the air suddenly clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.
An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lightning struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;
And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one’s back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.
late 1930s-early 1940s
This uncollected poem cannot be found in Elizabeth Bishop’s Collected Poems. To find it you’d have to pick up the Quinn-edited Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke Box, towards which I have some reservations (as indicated here). OR you can go directly to the authoritative Bishop volume, the recently published Library of America edition, edited by Robert Giroux and Lloyd Schwartz. It contains her prose as well, and a smattering of letters. Bishop’s prose is an integral part of her work and if you consider reading more of Bishop’s, I highly, strongly recommed the LoA edition, which you can buy here.