Poet’s Corner

Poet’s Corner is our new column devoted to poetry; a point of refuge in the online world where those who believe in the transformative power of language  can come for contemplation and renewal. In pondering a name for this column, we remembered Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey, and, in NYC, St. John of the Divine Cathedral’s American Poets Corner. These sacred spaces in the physical world offer a palpable retreat from the bustle of the everyday; they are places where silence and only the most luminous and considered of words hold sway. We are drawn to this connection because we believe poetry can be a kind of sacred vocation as well as a contemplative encounter.

Poet’s Corner

In her beautiful book entitled, A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write, writer Melissa Pritchard says, “Many of the tenets of sainthood are also to be cultivated in the committed writer: selflessness, the death of the little self, purity of spirit leading to intensity of vision, a suspension of judgment in regard to your fellow human beings, an intimate acquaintance with ecstasy, sorrow, and revelation. Consider for a moment your work as analogous to intimate prayer in which you address God, and thereby divineness, in all matter.” Those of us who read and/or write poetry in this era are not saints, of course, but in our pursuit of something finer than we know and truer than we (at first) can see, we are fellow pilgrims, seeking wisdom and inspiration in a certain concordance of purpose. In that spirit, we offer Engaging the Senses’ Poet’s Corner as a place of refuge.

Thank you to the wonderful Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for introducing us to Melissa Pritchard and her work.

A Convening of Poets

                                                                                            …a flick of hares, a murder of crows

 

Again this morning I’ve opened the blinds barely awake
so the thief light will backhand my brain,

invited the oxblood jasper on the sill
to ravish my eye. Fists

of fractured rainbow pinning the walls,
traffic thickening the cotton-blue air,

I enter these days head down,
nose to the earth of a poem.

Later, there is tea, maybe bread,
the neighbor crying all morning sings me

his separate grief. This is the one place left
where sound enters selectively—and where you are,

this place is too. Today, you rose too early
and bent your mind around the singed wick

of a kerosene lamp, last night’s waste of letters
and regret. You rose in the hospital ward, exhausted

yet alive, listening to the cool hum of lithium
after the howls of a manic siege.

Today your children woke you fighting
and you wiped them out with a stroke

of your sharpened mind, then got their ever-
loving breakfasts. You walked the hills of a foreign land

because you couldn’t live here anymore,
where the shroud of dreams sticks and burns.

Your husband is sick, your students asleep.
You died in a car crash the first week of Spring.

But more than ever before, nothing is lost—
each silence shapes a perfect word.

You lean your pencil against your teacup and head out
through the gardens, past the graveyards,

down the long road toward the one thing
you were made for. In this time ripe with pauses

you labor lions peacocks mountains armies windstorms
desolation, you honor lovers and conjure the dead.

In this hour of wails and praising, I’m standing
next to you, and you to me.

We’re startled. We hadn’t known each other
or ourselves before this life.

 by Alexandra Thurman