I Just Read

A Truly. Gorgeous. Poem.

I opened the Writer's Almanac webpage, as I do every morning. Today I expected a poem by John Updike, who died yesterday. I'm sad about that; his fiction is a national treasure. I recently described it to a friend as "clear, brave and blue collar - hard working to the very end." I can think of few other authors who have so succinctly captured the American experience.

But, and I say this wishing his peacefully resting soul the very best, his poetry is cumbersome and overwritten, pretentious and cliche. It's just plain awful.

So imagine my delight, when upon opening the Writer's Almanac, I saw not an Updike travesty, but the delightful gem I've pasted below. I think it is absolutely beautiful. Cautious at first, but with incredible momentum, just like a first love.

This is the kind of poetry I dream of writing.

Everything We Do
by Peter Meinke

Everything we do is for our first loves
whom we have lost irrevocably
who have married insurance salesmen
and moved to Topeka
and never think of us at all.

We fly planes & design buildings
and write poems
that all say Sally I love you
I'll never love anyone else
Why didn't you know I was going to be a poet?

The walks to school, the kisses in the snow
gather as we dream backwards, sweetness with age:
our legs are young again, our voices
strong and happy, we're not afraid.
We don't know enough to be afraid.

And now
we hold (hidden, hopeless) the hope
that some day
she may fly in our plane
enter our building read our poem

And that night, deep in her dream,
Sally, far in darkness, in Topeka,
with the salesman lying beside her,
will cry out
our unfamiliar name.


Kate said...

Beautiful. (And I agree - Updike's poetry is horrid!)

Erin said...

yep, that one's pretty incredible.

Paige Jennifer said...

I just sighed. Aloud. At my desk.