Thursday, January 25

oh, students

One teacher asked me to give a lesson on Auden and Dickinson to his class, because they are doing a story by Sherman Alexie that mentions those authors. It was exhilarating to be able to talk about poetry again, in a classroom, after so long. And my students were beautiful, they were smiling, they talked with wonder. Poetry is magic. It opens people up. We went right up to the bell, we didn't finish, they are excited to bring their poems next week and work on them more.

I've been out of commission on sewing the past week, but my dear friend S. (all the way across the world) and I write poems and send them to one another every day. We give one another assignments, praise, criticism, encouragement--and, maybe most importantly, we create a community of words. I go into her emails with anticipation, I feel surrounded and warm. It's like getting a gift each day. Rare.
These days I do feel full of wonder. Full of luck, my favorite adjective. Finding things all over, little signs connecting the world all up. It's called beauty, I am convinced, and means mathematics, a geometry of the heart.


The power was out when we woke up.
This was before I had begun to bite my nails,
before I had glasses, in the room
the color of a robin’s egg. There was a radiator,

a window cloaked in yellow cloth, our red
and yellow and blue plastic cups
on the sill. And my father came in to find us
in the morning, to bring us

a song from the other edge of the house.
Everything could have been dangerous
but we didn’t know it; leaded
windows, fireplace, nightshade leaning

into the tomatoes. When the lights
went out there were white candles
in the darkness. My father had a bristly
beard. My mother set the table

while he played the guitar for her. Someone
was always singing us to sleep,
and the sewing machine humming
in the next room, and we could believe,

if we could believe, in dew on grass
or frost on grass in the morning
and midnight picnics of Ritz and raisins,
my father loving my mother all the livelong day.

- - -

And then there's this, with what, less than a month to go? Totally surreal. (And exciting, too, of course.)


Blogger Irene said...

It is always great to talk about something you love to an audience that is interested.
You write such beautiful poetry.
I'm going to pre-order your book on Amazon at the end of the month (money is very short, but when it comes to things that make my heart warmer I don't hesitate).
Congratulations on the book.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous lisa said...

i am also pre-ordering. YOU are an amazing poet. I love this line:
This was before I had begun to bite my nails,
before I had glasses, in the room
the color of a robin’s egg.

Big hugs,

5:24 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

A sewing poet - I knew there had to be one out there somewhere! Your poem has a quiet ressonace that reminded me of early Robert Creeley. Thanks so much for sharing and exciting about the book, it being on Amazon must make it seem so much more concrete.

8:36 PM  
Blogger amisha said...

what a beautiful poem, and lovely words about the daily exchange with your friend. congratulations on the upcoming book-- so exciting!!

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Ash said...

Beautiful poem, and congratulations on the book.

12:38 PM  
Blogger lisa s said...

oh i can't wait for my autographed copy... [and the poem today... sigh]

and for talking about it on the book club... can't wait.... xo

7:13 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

eireann, hi!

i love reading your posts about poetry. it is so clear that this is your passion. sending poems back and forth to a friend sounds so wonderful, and your poem is beautiful. i'm so excited for your book!! (and for discussions over at ship of fools). xo shari

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Wow! Love the poem and the time/ space/ wonder you are able to create. I will certainly be getting the book!

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

The little 'a' says it all.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Lisa | eots said...

I am really looking forward to your book!

"...and we could believe, if we could could believe..."

That's a delightful bit of magic.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Because you love and write poetry I leave you my favourite poem. The poem is from a portuguese poet called Florbela Espanca, I tried to find it in english but the only translation I found was in french so here it is in french:

Etre poète c'est être en hauteur, c'est être plus grand
Que les hommes! Mordre comme si on donnait un baiser!
C'est d'être mendiant et donner comme si on était
Roi du Royaume de là et de l'au-delà de la douleur!

C'est d'avoir de mil désirs la fulgurance
Et ne pas savoir au moins ce que l'on désire
C'est d'avoir en soi un astre qui jaillit des flammes,
C’est d'avoir les griffes et les ailes du condor!

C'est d'avoir faim et d'avoir soif d'Infinit!
Et comme horizon les matins d'or et de satin
C'est condenser le monde dans un seul cri

C'est de t'aimer ainsi sans autre raison
C'est d'être l'âme et le sang et la vie en moi
Et le dire chantant à tout le monde

And in portuguese:

Ser poeta é ser mais alto, é ser maior
Do que os homens! Morder como quem beija!
É ser mendigo e dar como quem seja
Rei do Reino de Aquém e de Além Dor!

É ter de mil desejos o esplendor
E não saber sequer que se deseja!
É ter cá dentro um astro que flameja,
É ter garras e asas de condor!

É ter fome, é ter sede de Infinito!
Por elmo, as manhãs de oiro e cetim…
É condensar o mundo num só grito!

E é amar-te, assim, perdidamente…
É seres alma e sangue e vida em mim
E dizê-lo cantando a toda a gente!

(Florbela Espanca, «Charneca em Flor», in «Poesia Completa»)

12:17 PM  
Blogger willie said...

As long as you are deliberating on emigration/traveling, I heartily recommend you find a recording of, I think, Bing Crosby singing "Chattanooga Choo Choo". It is an almost perfect traveling song, and the words and the way they are used has an elegance and grace seldom found anywhere. Are you interested in using W.H. Auden's poem, "About the House"?

12:15 PM  

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