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Posts Tagged ‘Marie Howe’

windy willows

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil
probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty
dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we
spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
pours through

the open living room windows because the heat’s on too high in here,
and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street
the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying
along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush:
This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter
to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more
and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in
the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a
cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m
speechless:

I am living, I remember you.

–Marie Howe

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As an English major, I’ve read (and written) lots of poetry. I have a few favorites, though – some lines that are close to my heart, and float into my head once in a while. April is National Poetry Month, so I thought I’d share them with you. In no particular order:

1. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / With your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day”)

2. “She will look at me with her thin arms extended, / offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.” (Billy Collins, from “Tuesday, June 4, 1991.” I love pretty much everything Collins writes.)

3. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” (My friend Joy and I once climbed a hill in Salzburg, Austria, through a yellow-green spring wood, and recited this poem as we climbed. Yes, we were and are huge nerds. But now when I hear Frost’s lines, I remember our hike up the Kapuzinerberg.)

4. “In a house in Paris all covered in vines / lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. […] The smallest one was Madeline.” (No explanation needed – unless you’ve never heard of Madeline, whereupon I say, go find out about her right now!)

5. “All that is gold does not glitter, / Not all those who wander are lost…” (I love this poem from The Lord of the Rings…such deep truth here, and it fits into Tolkien’s magnificent mythology.)

6. “I am living. I remember you.” (the heartbreaking last lines from Marie Howe’s “What the Living Do” – posted in its entirety on Sarah’s site)

7. “Hope is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – At all” (Oh, how I love Dickinson. This one is my favorite.)

8. “I dwell in Possibility, / A fairer house than Prose – ” (More Dickinson. Love it.)

9. “Ricky was ‘L’ but he’s home with the flu…” (From “Love” by Shel Silverstein – see this post about fourth grade poetry.)

10. “You don’t own it – English majors!” (From a poem about poetry, by my friend Grant, who took creative writing classes even though he wasn’t an English major.)

What are the lines that have stayed with you?

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