Each Sunday, I post a brief introduction to a collection of poetry I've been loving. I include one poem that I think really sings. No review. No need. If it's here, you'll know I recommend it. If you have one to recommend (yours or someone else's), send it along. I'll do my best to be here every Sunday.
Do you remember? That day in January, 2009, when Elizabeth Alexander leaned into that microphone and read "Praise Song for the Day"? Even if you were among the critics of that poem, wasn't that a remarkable thing? Poetry. Out loud. Honored with a spot on that most honored dais. Remarkable.
Her American Sublime from 2005 is equally remarkable. Wide-ranging in both theme and tone, it often confounds and easily inspires. Here is one of my favorites, "Ars Poetica #10: Crossing Over."
Like the low Shaker cradle
sized for a diminished adult
in which they rocked their elderly to death,
or the five evangelical nurses
who sang the Jewish woman to the precipice
then told her to let go, go to Jesus
in a humming circle.
Like the mother of two sons
who sent them away
so they would not see
their mother die,
who refused the Shaker cradle.
Like you, like our mother,
who kept us as close for as long as she could
then sent us away
so she could.