Thanks again for joining me during another National Poetry Month. I hope that some of these words I’ve shared have helped bring a moment of beauty, solace, reflection, or hope into your lives and that the year ahead is brighter than this surreal stretch of time swirling around us. Here’s one final poem to savor by the great Linda Pastan (1932-).
Special thanks again to one of my dearest friends and kindred spirits, Kristina Closs, who brought a whole other layer to the poems this month with her beautiful and thoughtful illustrations. If you enjoyed her work, please visit her Etsy store where you can purchase prints–or contact her for custom commissions, which she will gladly work on with you.
Take good care, everyone.
“What We Fear Most”
for R after the accident
We have been saved one more time from what we fear most. Let us remember this moment. Let us forget it if we can. Just now a kind of golden dust settles over everything: the tree outside the window, though it is not fall; the cracked sugar bowl, so carefully mended once. This light is not redemption, just the silt of afternoon sun on an ordinary day, unlike any other.
As we wrap up National Poetry Month, here is my second to last (one more tomorrow!) poem, a sensual celebration of spring, of our love of the earth and for each another by the one and only Audre Lorde (1934-1992).
It is the sink of the afternoon the children asleep or weary. I have finished planting the tomatoes in this brief sun after four days of rain now there is brown earth under my fingernails And sun full on my skin with my head thick as honey the tips of my fingers are stinging from the rich earth but more so from the lack of your body I have been to this place before where blood seething commanded my fingers fresh from the earth dream of plowing a furrow whose name should be you.
With its unflinching portrait of how broken this country can be, today’s narrative poem by the Vietnamese-American poet Bao Phi rocks me at my core and reminds me of so many painful moments that I–and so many of us–have witnessed as children of immigrants.
“Frank’s Nursery and Crafts”
The lines are long and my mom insists that the final amount is wrong. The cashier looks at the receipt and insists that it’s right. My mom purses her lips, looks worried, says, it’s not right. The line of white people behind us groans. My mom won’t look back at them. We both know what they’re thinking Small woman with no knowledge of the way things are in America. Though year after year she makes flowers bloom in the hood, petals in the face of this land that doesn’t want her here. Finally a manager comes, checks, and tells the cashier she rang up twenty-two plants instead of just two, overcharging us by forty dollars. My mother holds my hand leads me away without looking back at the line of white people who overhear and gasp, their sympathy won. If only I was old enough to tell them to keep it; it’s not my mom’s English that is broken.