I love coming across a poem that hits me with a force, that impresses me with its language and ideas, and that’s exactly how I felt when I read the following:
When We Sold the Tent
When we sold the tent
we threw in the Grand Canyon
with its shawl of pines,
lap full of cones and chipmunks
and crooked seams of river.
We let them have the
parched white moonscapes of Utah,
magnificat of flowers
sunbursting hill after hill.
Long gentle stretches
of Wyoming, rain outside
some sad Idaho
town where the children, giddy
with strange places, clowned all night.
Eyes like small veiled moons
circling our single light, sleek
shadows with pawprints,
all went with the outfit; and
youth, a river of campfires.
Rhina P. Espaillat
from Playing at Stillness
© Truman State University Press.
Don’t you just love the 2nd line – ‘we threw in the Grand Canyon’? That mix of ordinary, colloquial expression juxtaposed with the enormity of the place? And a ‘shawl of pines’… there’s such comfort there, the comfort of good memories. In fact, I could comment on something in every line. I’ve read the poem about half a dozen times now and each time I feel so ‘lifted’ by it. The third stanza, with its enjambed lines is a delight to read and feel, and then the opening line of the 4th stanza: ‘Eyes like small veiled moons’/ - the beauty of it is breathtaking, while the last line ‘lands’ the poem perfectly. It focuses to a theme, but allows the poem to stay ‘open’ so the reader can wander along their own ‘river of campfires’.
I am so pleased to have discovered this poet and look forward to reading more of her work. You can buy her book at The Book Depository, my favourite online bookseller.
So, the prompt is to write a poem that explores what an object brings into your life when it arrives, or what it takes out of your life when it leaves, when it’s given away, or maybe even lost.