Friday, January 03, 2020

Poetry Friday: Jack Gilbert and Me

Happy New Year! On this first Poetry Friday of 2020, I'm going to share two poems, one by someone else and one of my own. My OLW this year is Hope, and the first poem is about that. I love the way it hints at emotions all co-existing, all jumbled together, and hope in spite of the facts. The second poem, mine, is about a friend we lost at the end of 2019. I was talking to a mutual friend, and the poem came from a memory she shared with me about him and from our subsequent conversation. In my first draft, the "he" and "she" are replaced by their names, and I like that better, but I share this version for the sake of privacy.

Horses at Midnight Without a Moon
by Jack Gilbert

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.

Here's the rest.

Here's the last time I shared it, in 2012.

by Ruth, from

When they were in college 
He told her that emotions
Are like unruly children,
Running wild in the playground. 

He became a psychologist 
And helped people with their emotions. 
She had lots of children, by birth and adoption.
Nobody knew better than she did about corralling children. 
They didn’t talk any more but she often thought about what he’d said. 

He died. 

She found out on Christmas Day. 
She cried while she made dinner for her husband and children. 
The emotions and the children mingled freely in the kitchen,
As she thought about the years 
And how life is harder than you think it’s going to be. 

And the children.
The children you try to guide and teach 
And yes, sometimes control,
Sometimes they peacefully gather around 
And play ring around the Rosie
But other times they huddle timidly in the corner 
Or run amok 
And get into fights.
Sometimes there are tears in the gravy. 

He would have understood.

Carol's roundup.


Irene Latham said...

Sometimes there are tears in the gravy. I LOVE THIS LINE!! I am loving the relationship between these two poems, Ruth. Thank you for sharing! xo

Linda B said...

Our family, too, had a death the day after Christmas, & it was hard to believe that the life of someone we knew for so long was gone. The first is so hopeful. That line "who suddenly smells flowers" is beautifully hopeful. And your poem shows all the emotions felt in the holiday, carrying on but sometimes, "tears in the gravy". I'm sorry for your loss, Ruth. Wishing you a good new year and a back to school soon!

Linda Mitchell said...

I really like how your poem brings the two people together...the psychologist that corrals emotions and the mother that corrals children. That's brilliant.

Carol said...

Ruth, your poem, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! I especially love the last stanza, and that last line. A perfect description of parenthood, heartbreaking and breathtaking, all at once. Thank you for your beautiful, beautiful words!

mbhmaine said...

Both of these poems are wonderful Ruth, and augment each other beautifully. I'm so sorry for your loss. This line says so much to me--"The emotions and the children mingled freely in the kitchen." And that brilliant line, that Irene already mentioned, "Sometimes there are tears in the gravy." Thinking of you.

Mary Lee said...

Gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Catherine Flynn said...

"Sometimes there are tears in the gravy." Sometimes the most powerful truths seem so simple. Thank you for this stunning poem, Ruth. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Tara said...

I come back to this line, too: "Sometimes there are tears in the gravy." Tears in your poem, too, Ruth.