The more poems I read these days by writers like Robin Coste Lewis, Tracy Smith, and Claudia Rankine, the more I know deep in my bones that it is this medium that draws me most intensely. For years, I’ve said, half in jest and half in regret, “When I grow up I want to be a poet.” Well, there’s not a huge amount of time left for me to make good on that prediction.
These days, I keep sorting through ancient pieces of paper in an effort to cull what will be left for a dear friend to sort through when I die. I keep unearthing scraps of poems written fifteen, twenty-five, forty years ago, so I’ve been trying to put my winsome saying into practice for a fairly long time. But I don’t do anything about making new ones, though I often play over in my mind a marvelous first line: “God is a northwest wind in August.” What I did manage to do just a couple of weeks ago, however, is revise two short poems about my relationship to two natural elements–the moon and the wind. Here they are, for whatever they may be worth.
The Wind and I
The wind takes no rest today,
her voice a steady whine.
She whips the lake to waves so high
they frighten and excite.
Windows loosely hung clatter in my ear–
the wind resents me,
safe behind a wall, away from her.
Were I to step outside and meet my Lady Wind
would her whips turn all caresses,
her gale a lullaby?
Her fury beats against the mammoth lake–
her reason? who’s to say
since none has seen her to inquire.
Perhaps she just wants access,
access denied by timid me.
The Moon and I
The moon grows very fast:
tonight it’s half itself,
three days ago, a shaving.
I watch it blossom on the way to full.
I differ from the moon–
I inch along each day
towards a circle of my own.
But the angle of decline
persists, and my shadow fills the space
where once was light and air.
Maybe I’ll be full before the snows,
but the Queen of Light outstrips me,
she grows very fast indeed.
At the least, these little poems, revived after a couple of decades, move me a tiny bit closer to writing something fresh. And even if not, my polishing and sharing them attests to an old longing. More immediately, doing so leads me to spend time reading two relatively new collections: American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Terrance Hayes) and National Monuments (Heid Erdrich).