April is a good month. It is usually the end of the end of winter and the start to what feels like Spring. We get our first balmy days, with the earth promising green at every turn. The first quarter of the year is closing, and we launch forward into whatever is next. I like it.
April also happens to be National Poetry Month, which in general is about as meaningful as Corn Dog Day (March 19) or Take Your Plants for a Walk Day (July 27, if you’re interested in taking a trot with your beloved ficus). For me, it is a friendly reminder to read poetry in its many forms. To linger over language and rhythm and meaning. It is a reminder of how very, very powerful, fun, lovely and illuminating artfully arranged words can be.
National Poetry Month also reminds me of the brave souls who put pen to paper, to share of themselves in lyric prose, and it just so happens that I have a few favorites. These, I count among my “friends”, and every now and again, I am going to share them with you.
So today I want to acknowledge my high school English teacher, Mr. Jack Howard, who introduced me to so much, who opened my mind and my heart with words and authors and history, and, most related to this particular post, gave me the profound gift of Anne Sexton. I love the pain and breadth, the complexity and honesty of her poetry. For as long as I can remember, Young is a poem I could recite by heart. I love it, and hope you enjoy it, too.
A thousand doors ago
when I was a lonely kid
in a big house with four
garages and it was summer
as long as I could remember,
I lay on the lawn at night,
clover wrinkling over me,
the wise stars bedding over me,
my mother’s window a funnel
of yellow heat running out,
my father’s window, half shut,
an eye where sleepers pass,
and the boards of the house
were smooth and white as wax
and probably a million leaves
sailed on their strange stalks
as the crickets ticked together
and I, in my brand new body,
which was not a woman’s yet,
told the stars my questions
and thought God could really see
the heat and the painted light,
elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight.