Poetry Corner: March 2018

This month, I (Rhonda) will start us off, with a poem I’ve written, and another that I heard for the first time this fall and found meaningful.

Many of you probably know the work of poet Jane Hirsfield, but I heard her read at GVSU last fall, and was enamored! She read this poem, which reminds me that writing isn’t really about getting famous or getting published. For me, it’s about saying things that need to be said, both for the sake of the poet, and for her readers. About how finding the space and time, both inside ourselves, and in our lives, to make writing happen, is sometimes the most difficult hurdle. And about how we need each others’ work. I hope this Poetry Corner, in some small way, can be a place like that for you as well.

The Poet
by Jane Hirshfield

She is working now, in a room
not unlike this one,
the one where I write, or you read.
Her table is covered with paper.
The light of the lamp would be
tempered by a shade, where the bulb’s
single harshness might dissolve,
but it is not, she has taken it off.
Her poems? I will never know them,
though they are the ones I most need.
Even the alphabet she writes in
I cannot decipher. Her chair —
Let us imagine whether it is leather
or canvas, vinyl or wicker. Let her
have a chair, her shadeless lamp,
the table. Let one or two she loves
be in the next room. Let the door
be closed, the sleeping ones healthy.
Let her have time, and silence,
enough paper to make mistakes and go on.

At the suggestion of a friend and mentor, I spent a week at retreat center Gilcrhist, in Three Rivers, Michigan, two summers ago, and the place has changed my life. Now I try to go at least a few times a year, in different seasons. I always walk for hours, in the woods and over the prairies, and I usually leave with a few new poems. This one was born during that first visit.

Surprised by the Holy
by Rhonda Edgington

Tromping through the woods
following an unfamiliar trail
I set out with good intentions
of living in the now
feasting on the moment.

But before I know it
I am everywhere but here
anytime but now.
All imaginary dialogues, worries,
obsessive ponderings, over-analysis.

My feet follow the path somewhere amazing –
blackberries around every turn, ripe and juicy,
unexpected vistas, meadows of goldenrod,
hillsides of pine and maples, birds and crickets

calling to me from the bushes and grasses –
but my brain is going in circles
stuck in a suburban cul-de-sac
gazing at all the things I’d left home to avoid.

Until a racket startles me, just out of sight
off the trail but nearby – leaves thrashins,
feet stomping, and the briefest glimpse
of leaping hind legs, a white tail in the air.

I missed that sighting and many others
So often coming out of myself too late.
Had I been walking quietly my eyes and mind opened
I might I have slipped up beside them.

Looked over and gazed at her
our eyes meeting for a moment
alert still and suddenly aware.

~hosted by Randy Smit and Rhonda Edgington