Friday, April 10, 2020

Poetry Friday: National Poetry Month, Day 10

Last Friday, I shared a poem about home by Maggie Smith. Her metaphor for home in that poem was "a book we write, then/ read again & again, each time dog-earing/ different pages."

My plan was to take that quote as my epigraph, and write my own poem about home. But instead of thinking of home as a book we write, I kept coming back to the idea of a book someone else wrote, a long time ago. Here's the poem I ended up with, about the experience of my friend Alexis Kreiner, who left Haiti on a special evacuation flight after the airport was already closed to regular flights. (Maybe you read Alexis' poem about lockdown yoga back in November.) I'm sharing this poem, complete with the personal details, with Alexis' permission.


My friend travels home
to the United States
as pandemic rages.
She lands in an apartment
for her two-week quarantine
with a box of necessities
packed by her mom.

She tells me
she asked for
her copy of
Pride and Prejudice,
the ultimate comfort read
in a time of
and culture shock
and fear

(plus taking antibiotics
for her hand wound,
where she got bitten
by her terrified cat
in the security line
at the airport).

I picture my friend
in her far-off isolation,
reading about the Bennets at Longbourn
and Mr. Bingley and his friends at Netherfield

and about Elizabeth visiting Pemberley
and finding a community
run wisely and benevolently,
and dozens of empty rooms
lined with family paintings.

So many homes to shelter in,
and all the problems in the book
will be solved peacefully,
amid dancing and cups of tea.

Darcy and Elizabeth
will get together in the end
after much discourse,
spoken and written,
all in complete sentences.

Turning pages
with well-scrubbed hands
in the quiet American neighborhood,
in what passes for home
at this moment,
my friend knows
everything will be
all right.


Today we'll gather with our friends - including Alexis - over Zoom to commemorate Good Friday. This was not our plan just a few weeks ago. We're finding comfort in what we believe to be true, in spite of everything else around us.

"My Song is Love Unknown," by Samuel Crossman

1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has the roundup today at the Poem Farm.


Kay said...

There is so much I love about your poem, but my favorite might be Elizabeth and Darcy conversing in complete sentences. Stay safe and well. Even though this Lent and Easter are different from anything I could have imagined, I am also clinging tightly to what I believe.

Linda B said...

I have a former student, now grown, who has returned from a teaching gig in China & just recently came out of quarantine. She posted daily on Instagram, but not about books, but about learning new things, like art creations with twisted paper. I love hearing about your friend, trying out a new look at Pride & Prejudice & I wonder how she will think about it now? Thanks for a new view of 'home', Ruth. Best wishes to you & the family!

Mary Lee said...

I love how you put the well-loved book and home together in this poem!

Janet said...

Tears started when I got to the stanza with "I picture my friend..." You capture so much truth, in so many layers, in so few words.

Jane Austen uses many words! I love her style too, but it doesn't sneak up on me like yours does, and touch an emotional pressure point before I even realize it.

Bridget Magee said...

Thank you for reminding us that there is so much comfort in story as you illustrated so perfectly in the poetic retelling of your friend's experience. (The hand wound from the cat bite in security could be another story unto itself! yikes! :)

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, I read your post this weekend and must have forgotten to hit the send button. I read your friend's poem that mixed yoga moves with Haitian chaos . I also liked your poem and the ending you wrote.