Sometimes I pick up one of my poetry books as a sort of palate cleanser for all that prose I’m reading all the time. I had bought this book for one poem, “The Journey,” that I found in an anthology at some coffee shop. That poem struck me to the heart, (“though their melancholy was terrible”) but I never really bothered to flip through any of the other poems.
You try reading Gore Vidal and Howard Zinn at the same time. You’ll be begging for just a glimpse of joy in the world, the warmth of human empathy.
my past to go away, I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery; I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know
whoever I was, I was
for a little while.”
This is from the luminous first poem, “Dogfish,” as full of the milk of human kindness as Vidal is not.
And each slight little piece floats on from there as airy and simple with a full heart.
“For year and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
the butterfly rose, weightless, in the wind.
‘Don’t love your life
too much,’ it said.
into the world.”