Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giving the Gift of Poetry

One of the ways I have been able to motivate myself to write poems lately is by dedicating them to specific people and giving the resulting poem as a gift. I figure I am following in the great tradition of Emily Dickinson, who also made presents of her poems, attached to home-baked goods. I don't do the baking, though. Just the writing.

Here's a recent one:

What it is All About
Father’s Day 2009

Sometimes during a gig
when Tony is soloing
and I am plunking out my homemade bass line
Your hands striking the congas
pah da la da
puh de le duh
we look up, can’t help smiling.
We’re in a rock band! you say.

When I was very small
you used to ask me
What’s it all about?
as we walked the quarter mile
home from grandma and grandpa’s
singing Starry, Starry Night.

Now I think of cold winter mornings.
You would wake early,
start the fire in the woodstove,
and lay out clothes for my sisters and me
near the stove in the shapes of our bodies.

When we woke, we’d race down
and dress in a flurry, the heat
cloaking our skin.
The smell of wood smoke
followed us to school.

Now I have my own little bodies
to care for, and as I snuggle my daughter
into my body to nurse,
I think I finally know:
this is what it is all about. This transfer
of heat and light and love and life.

Happy writing,