With National Poetry Month in mind, as well as the start tomorrow to a poetry workshop, and an upcoming poem a day challenge, I pulled out some of my favorite poets. This poem by Alice Ostriker struck me because it captures the fire that burns inside at the same time it shines a wide angle lens across a life halfway spent. Writing is my vocation and called me when I was six. Now I am sixty and have finally answered the call. I try not to look back, but reading this, I saw the child, the teenager, the young adult and woman I have been. How small I was, in my own thin coat:
To play among the words like one of them,
Lit from within—others can see it,
She slips like a cat through traffic,
A girl alone downtown
For the first time, subway fare in her purse,
Fear of losing it
Clamping her chest,
Wind whipping tears from her eyes,
Fried grease and gasoline in her nose, shoes and
Jewelry in shopwindows. a spike
Of freedom stitching her scalp—
Though she dreads the allergy shot at the clinic
She feels herself getting brave.
Now it begins to snow on Central Park South
And a flight of pigeons
Whim up from a small pile of junk in the gutter
Grey, violet, green, a predatory shimmer.
The marquee of the Paris Theater
Looks at the rapturous child
Through downcast lashes, condescendingly.
I watch her over a distance of fifty years.
I see how small she is in her thin coat.
I offer a necklace of tears, orgasms, words
~ Alice Ostriker
- See more at: http://www.persimmontree.org/v2/summer-2010/poems/#sthash.rJUUllho.dpuf