Poem of the Week, by Joyce Sutphen

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

“Paco, my one real goal in life is for you to be happy.” Actual words that came out of my mouth yesterday. There’s no come on, hurry up about walks with this boy. He gets to choose where he wants to go and how long he wants to spend sniffing that clump of grass. He gets to inspect a dead worm all he wants, and if he wants to roll in it, okay, fine (kind of).

We wander and inspect and I try to see the world through his nose and ears and eyes. His love of the world and his fascination with the garbage cans in the same alley we walk down day after day makes me think of this beautiful poem, by a poet who somehow, always, manages to find words to keep the soul alive.

What to Do, by Joyce Sutphen


Wake up early, before the lights come on
in the houses on a street that was once
a farmer’s field at the edge of a marsh.

Wander from room to room, hoping to find
words that could be enough to keep the soul
alive, words that might be useful or kind

in a world that is more wasteful and cruel
every day. Remind us that we are
like grass that fades, fleeting clouds in the sky,

and then give us just one of those moments
when we were paying attention, when we gave
up everything to see the world in

a grain of sand or to behold
a rainbow in the sky, the heart
leaping up.

For more information about Joyce Sutphen, please click here.
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