It’s National Poetry Month, so I dusted off this poem I wrote several years ago for my former colleague Glennis. Like all of us, she had experienced some unexplained aches and physical events that left her puzzled. I combined her pain with my own into these lines. That’s what poetry is, combinations of ideas and jigsaw pieces that may assemble themselves into a coherent concept, all while you are doing something else, like walking on a path that you helped create. Here are 30 ways you can celebrate poetry. Enjoy!
The Desire Line
I crossed, cutting up sidelong
toward the wooded hummock-ribs of the park,
eucalyptus and low-flying ivy were wet in winter’s early robes.
No one created this path
No one thought it would be here
but in everyone’s
No one knew where to walk
in their thousand step falls,
made it theirs.
It was in everyone’s eye.
You don’t mind the narrow dirt ribbon,
the grass peeling away,
long blades bending as if to say:
Here, here is where you are most welcome to pass.
You barely pay attention.
It’s just easy.
Easier than noticing.
I returned the same way,
I did it twice a day for years.
Then one day my neck gave me some trouble.
The week after my arm.
A year ago it was my hip,
and now it’s my feet.
All the quickness that defined me
has abandoned me.
All that was fleet and sure
is now pacing itself,
as if it were trying to win a race
by deception and stratagem
rather than cocky, brawny, stubborn speed.
I imagine a life was once set out for me,
petroglyphs collected in cool caves,
symbols indicating motion,
location, actors and timing.
A map, a vision.
But look! I’ve walked somewhere else,
I’ve mounted the small rise,
turned and seen the desire line,
and nearby, asphalt paths, shiny in the rain,
seem not to mind their function unmade.
My life then,
like that miniature road I helped make,
casual in its demeanor,
wearing away, bit by bit,
me, my desire, and
a line I’ll recognize gradually,
so that when it becomes clear,
I’ll have known it all these years.
It won’t be a big surprise.