Poem of the Week, by Derek Walcott

IMG_0342People who say they have “no regrets” mystify me. Regrets, oh I’ve got a few. Like last night when I couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about the times I yelled at my children when they were little. This didn’t happen much, but every time it did, my self-hatred was huge. It still is. As a mother I wanted always and only to be a comfort to my kids. But when you’re yelling, you’re not a comfort, are you?

In the dark hours before dawn, in hopes of forgiving myself by understanding myself, I tried to see myself as the little girl I used to be, the child who, like all children, had little control over her own life. No dice.

This morning I wrote notes to my children, telling them how sorry I was for having yelled. Because what else can I do? You can’t go back in time and undo things. Then my favorite line from this beautiful poem —give back your heart to itself–drifted into my head. 

 

Love After Love, by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

For more information about Derek Walcott, please click here.

Poem of the Week, by Paul Hostovsky

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A beloved friend I lost touch with many years ago has been on my mind lately, so I googled him. My guess was he’d be out there somewhere, invisibly changing the world with his brilliance at math, and I was right.

In our early twenties my friend gave me a small book titled Innumeracy, about how statistics influence every aspect of our lives. One chapter detailed how every breath we take contains a minimum of three molecules of air breathed by every person who has ever been alive.

The knowledge that we will always be part of each other changed the way I think, and live, and write. Those we love and those we don’t,  those who love us and those who don’t – like it or not, we are connected forever. This beautiful poem makes me want to put my arms around the whole world and hold it tight. 

 

History of Love, by Paul Hostovsky

Because he loves the way she has
of touching him
and because she loves the way he has
of loving her
each has learned the other’s
way and the other’s touch
so when love turns
and the world turns
and the lovers turn from each other and go
to other lovers they take
they take all they know
of love and of touch
and they give it to another
and in this way love grows rich
and wise and wide among us
and in this way we are also
loving those who will come after
and those who came before
we ever came to love

 

 

For more information about Paul Hostovsky, please check out his website.

Poem of the Week, by Tess Gallagher

Shack, view straight up from the hammockYears ago I bought some raw land on a slope in Vermont. Hired someone to grade a tiny cleared patch in the woods. Drilled a well. Bought a one-room cabin kit off eBay and hired a carpenter to put it together. Spent many days and nights staring up from the porch and the hammock at the enormously tall pines pictured to the right.

The cabin was a seasonal place but even in summer it was always dark and cool. After some years I craved sunlight, so I asked a lumberjack friend if he would cut down a few of the pines. He said yes, if he could do it in the middle of winter. I don’t like to cut down trees, he said, even though he was a lumberjack. And I only do it in winter, when all the birds have left the nests.

When I read this poem I thought of him, my lumberjack friend who snowshoed alone up the unplowed dirt road to the cabin in February, towing his chainsaw and axe on a toboggan behind him, and went to work in the frozen stillness so he wouldn’t hurt the birds. 

 

Choices, by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.  

                              for Drago Štambuk

 

​For more information on Tess Gallagher, please ​click here.

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Poem of the Week, by Gregory Orr

IMG_4207Certain moments are burned into your brain and heart, moments that even as they happened you knew would haunt you forever, like the way your little boy nodded and kept nodding, that one afternoon on the couch. Looking back now, through the tunnel of time, there are passages so rough that you narrowed time down to half-hour segments in order to make it through. Had to trust that somehow the invisible ship would carry you from one invisible shore and deposit you on another. That you would find yourself again.

You do find yourself again, over and over, but you’re not the same person you were before. Each time, there has been a long season of necessary silence, and even if you look the same, you aren’t. Maybe we don’t heal so much as shift, and yield, and absorb in a way that lets us keep living with all the everythings that happen in a life.  

 

Aftermath Sonnet, by Gregory Orr

Letting my tongue sleep, 
and my heart go numb.

Sensing that speech
too soon,
after such a wound,
would only be
a different bleeding.

Even needing to leave
the page blank.
Long season
of silence—
trusting that under

its bandage of snow,
the field of me is healing.

 

For more information about Gregory Orr, please click here​.​

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For more information about Gregory Orr, please https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gregory-orr.

 

 

Poem of the Week, by Wendy Chin-Tanner

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 10.16.17 AMIn my 1000 Words class you could write anything you wanted –poem, essay, memoir, story, children’s book–as long as it was fewer than one thousand words. Does it sound easier to write short than long? It’s not. You have to take an image, a dream, a thought, a burning wish, and hone and pare it until there’s not an extra word.

This process of distilling words is my great love and my great challenge in everything I write. When I read the poem below –twelve short words that encompass the un-beginning of an entire life–I was spellbound.

 

 

Infertility, by Wendy Chin

You end me
like a period

ends a sentence
ends a line. 

 

For more information about Wendy Chin-Tanner, please click here.

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