Two for Tuesday: The Face of Memory
I came across the first poem whilst looking for poems about autumn. The second poem is one that I taught in my literature classes as an example of the importance of line breaks and decisions poets make when composing.
As I drive into town
the driver in front of me
runs a stop sign.
A pedestrian pulls down his cap.
A man comes out of his house
to sweep the steps.
bright as raspberries.
I turn on the radio.
Somebody tells me
the day is sunny and warm.
A woman laughs
and my daughter steps out of the radio.
Grief spreads in my throat like strep.
I had forgotten, I was happy, I maybe
was humming “You Are My Lucky Star,”
a song I may have invented.
Sometimes a red geranium, a dog,
will carry me away.
But not for long.
Some memory or another of her
catches up with me and stands
like an old nun behind a desk,
ruler in hand.
~ Jo McDougall
My friend says I was not a good son
I say yes I understand
he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know
even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes
he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father
he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me
oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father’s hand the last time
he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me
oh yes I say
but if you are busy he said
I don’t want you to feel that you
just because I’m here
I say nothing
he says my father
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don’t want to keep you
I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do
W. S. Merwin
Music by The Careful Ones, “Silhouettes”
- Another Page 8 Poem: Inspired by Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende (versesonmysleeve.wordpress.com)
- W.S. Merwin, Part One: A Poet Not Afraid To Go Epic (hammeringshield.wordpress.com)
- Thoughts about ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ by Theodore Roethke (sswhdgn.wordpress.com)
- Tonight I Can Write (themindofmax.wordpress.com)