Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a good poem

Happy Valentine's to all my sweethearts--my husband, my puppies, and all my friends and family. Hugs and kisses to all of y'all, every day of the year, of course... and not just Valentine's Day.

I'm a sucker for a good poem, even if it's a sad one.
Valentine's day is one of the only times each year when a poem is entirely cool and acceptable. When I taught English, I used a game on Valentine's to get adolescents to read all sorts of poems about love. Some poems were about romantic love, sure, but a lot of them were about other kinds of "love"--parental love, lust, and even loss. The poems were all printed in different fonts and cut into sections. Every student got a section. They had to read all the other sections to find the pieces of their poem, read it, and then the students interpreted what it said. I'll never forget when I taught this in an inner-city DC high school. One of my students remembered the poetry day, but the stunning part was that she'd memorized her poem in one class session. She came back later, asking for that "Even as I hold you" poem. I wish no one ever had to feel the way this poem describes, but since we've all had to deal with it, I'm deeply grateful that Alice Walker has given us the words to express and understand it. Here it is, in honor of a motivated student, Valentine's Day, Alice Walker, and poetry in general.

Even as I Hold You
by Alice Walker

Even as I hold you
I think of you as someone gone
far, far away. Your eyes the color
of pennies in a bowl of dark honey
bringing sweet light to someone else
your black hair slipping through my fingers
is the flash of your head going
around a corner
your smile, breaking before me,
the flippant last turn
of a revolving door,
emptying you out, changed,
away from me.

Even as I hold you
I am letting go.


Blogger CatonsvilleCats said...

Actually my hunch is this poem is about her daughter. Maybe I'm reading it as a mom but that's my hunch!

February 16, 2006 at 7:16 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

See, isn't poetry great? You're getting something out of this that is totally different than those students I worked with. I think this could be about a lover, too--and that's the best part. Everyone brings part of themselves to understanding literature. I think about this poem all the time-again, maybe because of my own experiences.

February 16, 2006 at 10:15 AM  

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