Poem of the Week, by W.S. Merwin

Istanbul, D and pigeonsMy daughter and I were in Istanbul for a week, our first time in a country where the call to prayer sounded five times a day. I remember sitting by the window at sunset as the song of the muezzins rose in the air. It was beautiful and unearthly and I wanted to hold onto it so it would never end. It’s an almost panicky feeling, that wanting to hold on. Long ago, as a means of coping with it, I began to tell myself that You can always come back, Alison

In my heart, pigeons are still fluttering around my daughter on the cobblestones, and we are still wandering the shore of the Bosphorus, and we are both looking up, up, up at the dome of the Hagia Sophia. And then back, back, back I go in time, to the magical moment when she first opened her eyes. Every minute of being alive is its own first and last. You can’t go back.


Youth, by W.S. Merwin

Through all of youth I was looking for you
without knowing what I was looking for

or what to call you I think I did not
even know I was looking how would I

have known you when I saw you as I did
time after time when you appeared to me

as you did naked offering yourself
entirely at that moment and you let

me breathe you touch you taste you knowing
no more than I did and only when I

began to think of losing you did I
recognize you when you were already

part memory part distance remaining
mine in the ways that I learn to miss you

from what we cannot hold the stars are made

​For more information on WS Merwin, please ​read this.



  1. Linda Klein · March 31, 2019

    How serendipitous that I would read your poem after sending a note to the New York Times Magazine commenting how much I enjoyed today’s story on Revolving Restaurants. I recalled for them my memories of visits to the St. Paul Radisson revolving restaurants through the years with my family. My last revolving restaurant visit was to the Seattle Space Needle at the time of my 70th and my daughter Alison’s 30th birthdays on a trip to see her in Seattle. Once we were whisked to the top, the elevator promptly went down, trapping all lunch inhabitants until it could be fixed. Alison and I were nonplussed. We had all the time in the world for our lunch. Everyone else was in a hurry. That is the world today.

    Yes, I may never do that again. But the memory is still fresh in my heart as is the joy of spending the day with my daughter.

    Thanks Alison (YOU, not my daughter) for reminding us of the pleasure of memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · March 31, 2019

      Linda, what a beautiful memory. Something I so love about it is how you and your daughter didn’t care that you were trapped – you were not in a rush. (I also love that she’s a fellow one-l Alison.)


  2. llklein65hotmailcom · March 31, 2019

    I tried to post a comment, but it disappeared into the ozone later. I will try to repeat here.

    How serendipitous that I would respond to your poem just after sending a note to the New York Times Magazine thanking them for their lovely story on Revolving Restaurants, which I have linked below. I commented on how I remember the Radisson Hotel having a similar restaurant back in the 60’s and enjoying that restaurant through the years for family and friend celebrations.


    Letter of Recommendation: Revolving Restaurants – The New York Times – nytimes.com
    When I was 9, my dad took me to lunch at 360 Restaurant in Toronto’s CN Tower, then the tallest free-standing tower in the world. At the time, we lived in Saskatchewan, where my father was a …

    When I visited my daughter, Alison, for my 70th and her 30th birthday two years ago, I requested lunch at the Seattle Space Needle restaurant. She indulged my kitschy request, and on a beautiful August day, we were whisked to the top floor in a high-speed elevator. No sooner had we exited the doors than the elevator was rendered inoperable. No one knew for how long. The panic that ensued from the time-absorbed inhabitants of the restaurant was palpable. Alison and I were nonplussed. We had all the time in the world. They evidently did not. Sign of the times.

    Your poem reminded me of how precious are memories. We always have them and can replay them like a moving picture in our minds, along with the smells, tastes and touches of the moment. To celebrate love in the simplest of moments is a gift.

    Linda Klein
    651 430-2464

    Klein Communications
    Affirming Life Support Group
    651 430-2830

    Life is short
    and we do not have much time
    to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
    So be swift to love and make haste to be kind.
    – Henri Frederic Amiel



  3. Suzanne Nielsen · April 1, 2019

    this is beautiful, Alison. The only time I was in Istanbul I got hit with a cane on my legs repeatedly. It was memorable. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · April 1, 2019

      Are you kidding? “hit with a cane on my legs repeatedly”? ONLY YOU. xoxo


  4. William Boden · April 1, 2019

    Lovely reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · April 1, 2019

      Thank you so much.


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