For those of you who don’t know, poetry is my literary drink of choice. I like a nice big serving of it in the morning and in the evening and whenever I’m feeling sad or mad or glad. For nearly two decades the Academy of American Poets has deemed April National Poetry Month in America, a time when libraries and schools and bookstores around the country celebrate poetry through readings, festivals, book displays and workshops. I’ll write more about poetry in the days to come but today I’ll simply share a favorite poem (it’s impossible to pick just one) to get the conversation started.
I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes
unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring. Listen,
a day comes, when you say what all winter
I’ve been meaning to ask, and a crack booms and echoes
where ice had seemed solid, scattering ducks
and scaring us half to death. In Vermont, you dreamed
from the crown of a hill and across a ravine
you saw lights so familiar they might have been ours
shining back from the future.
And waking, you walked there, to the real place,
and when you saw only trees, came back bleak
with a foreknowledge we have both come to believe in.
But this morning, a kind day has descended, from nowhere,
and making coffee in the usual way, measuring grounds
with the wooden spoon, I remembered,
this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture
after gesture, what else can we know of safety
or of fruitfulness? We walk with mincing steps within
a thaw as slow as February, wading through currents
that surprise us with their sudden warmth. Remember,
last week you woke still whistling for a bird
that had miraculously escaped its cage, and look, today
a swallow has come to settle behind this rented rain gutter,
gripping a twig twice his size in his beak, staggering
under its weight, so delicately, so precariously, it seems
from here, holding all he knows of hope in his mouth.