by Freya Manfred
Are we frightened of the great, delicate spaces under the waters…? (James Wright, “A Visit to Earth”)
The list of things I no longer care about grows long,
though when I recall myself as a girl of twenty, swooning
in the springtime Shakespeare class of James Wright,
what mattered most to me then has not changed:
a good conversation with a man neither old nor young,
lost or found, only a poet, becoming, on a journey.
Can we manage that, without New York sarcasm creeping
into our voices, without bland Midwestern superiority,
or West Coast faith in one right path, like lemmings into the sea?
Can we let each other finish a story without interruption,
speak our greatest fears and hopes without a moral,
until we’re not unlike two friendly dogs on a wild romp,
with no plans except our muddy, barking acquiescence
to each other’s strange, rich, ancient, singing world?
You can find this poem in Swimming With a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle.