4.29.2010

we can do it together

I'm quite taken with the idea of carrying around poems to share, as the Academy of American Poets would have us do. Today, National Poem In Your Pocket Day, I shared! Trumpeted some poems out on Facebook and Twitter, naturally. And I made copies of poems and distributed them--personally, not by mailbox--at work. I could hear my co-workers thinking "weirdo!" Or maybe they weren't. Either way, it felt cool to direct people's attention to the written word, a POEM for crying out loud.

Truth be told, I'm also really taken in this moment with thoughts and memories of my early mentor, Siv Cedering. I searched out information about her last night as I was preparing to share one of her poems here. I didn't know she had died; she did, in 2007. She wrote poems and novels and plays and children's books, in Swedish and English. She was a translator. (One of the courses I took with her at Pitt was about poetry translation.) She was a widely exhibited sculptor and painter. She emigrated to San Francisco from Sweden as a teenager and lived in upstate New York in her last years.

Mostly, I'm taken by how intensely different my reading of Siv's poetry feels upon a re-visit by the grown-up me, the mother me. Reading her poetry now, as a woman beginning to notice that I am getting older. I know, everything looks different now. But this is striking and wonderful. She must have been in her mid-40's when I knew her, that's where I am now.

I promise to stop publishing other people's poems and get back to my own writing. But for tonight, I am compelled to share one more.

Night and Day

"Look at the pigeons," you say
And we watch a flock
Fly out over the street, to loop
Back toward the roofs, showing first
The soft gray of their bellies,
Then their darker side.

In Escher's woodcut,
The light birds fly toward a dark
Town while the spaces between them
Are dark birds flying toward a light
Town. I have lived with Night and
Day for years. Now that I am aware

Of my aging, only such opposites
Make sense. Like Ann, I will stand
In a dark pool, observing how my light
Skin, and the muscles beneath,
Are changing. Everyone is aging.
And yet, when I stand here looking up,

I am aware of the dark space
Under the light skin of my belly,
Our child, and the light that would
Fly, in the dark of his eyes,
As he lifts his face toward the sky,
Because you say: "Look at the pigeons." 

The book this poem is published in (see post below) bears the inscription: For my son, who once said, "People are lucky, but birds have wings," for my daughters, always, and for David Swickard, with love. (Siv translated a children's book written by David Swickard called Pearl's Adventure.) 

One more thing. Tonight, our daughter was talking about wanting to climb up high in the big climbing structure at the Children's Museum. She asked if we remembered that she climbed all the way to the top last year. Our son, who is older--he's six-and-a-half and she just turned four--started saying that the climbing structure made him nervous and he was afraid of being up that high. She said, firmly: "I'll be there with you." When he said okay but hesitated, she repeated, FIRMLY, "All you need to know is that I'll be there with you. We can do it together." She took his hand and said it again, and again. 

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IS THAT I'LL BE THERE WITH YOU. WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER.

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful-- the poem, but also your children.

    I taught Sharon Olds' The Wellspring a couple weeks ago, and was struck by a similar phenomenon of reading and hearing and feeling those poems so differently now than I did in my early 20s. Also interesting to guide my students, many of whom are from very conservative and religious backgrounds, through Olds work. I'm not sure I would copy her poems to hand out to unsuspecting coworkers, but I do love The Wellspring.

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  2. I love that saying, "ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IS THAT I'LL BE THERE WITH YOU. WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER." Is this your very first post? I'm sure it's neat to go back some 3 months later? and look at where you were and where you thought you were going to be.

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