National Poetry Month

Inspired by Black History month, The Academy of American Poets  worked with a variety of interested parties including teachers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and of course poets to figure out the many ways poetry could be celebrated.  They concluded April was a great month for the celebration, and on April 1, 1996, President Bill Clinton proclaimed April to be National Poetry Month. 

 

Following the Academy’s lead, Writers’ Morning Out has posted a poem-a-day during April since WMO’s inception in 2010.

“Living Alone” by gary phillips

 

My grandmother Lilly
Grew up just light enough to pass
But not to matter; married at 13
Made her life a torch of love and raised 8 babies on nothing
But what they could scratch and raise and kill
Buried a husband in her 60s Come live
with us her children chimed, but she said no
Bought a used trailer first house she ever had with a bathroom
moved it around: Gastonia, Indian Trail, Green Creek
Little side yards of the people who had reason to love her-

 

Aunt Lena’s
husband died in a fiery crash
baby in her arms and one in the belly
She was a handsome
Sinewy whiskey-drinking woman of the hills
had other offers to marry but said
no. Do it twice?
kept an oiled rifle near to hand
Lived by a trout stream and took her water from a spring
Ate more wild meat than grocery goods – made
squirrel dumplings that drew the neighbors like
Pollinators to a hooraw bush
Taught school for 40 years with all her heart
Went home to meet her Jesus satisfied
Bending under the waters of the Primitive Baptist Church
Just in case-

 

Mrs. Cantrell lived down an off-lane near the end
of our dirt road
sweet cottage with a shaded porch under tall cool cedars
not our chaos but a place where everything had a place
my father took her to church and I used to visit her
bent gnarled kind shy
had a game laid out on the table when I came by
parched peanuts in the oven
She held both my hands whenever I left
As if to calm a stray animal and turn it loose
When she died I wept into the black telephone
A grown man a thousand miles away-

 

Watching the pasture
that divides my two nearest neighbors
Widows living in houses they raised
a family and endured a husband in
Alive, wily, come into their own.
Maybe I can go sit with them today, carry some sweet corn and shuck it

 

I’ll say this
Sometimes a woman
has a seed of waiting
Imbedded in her by circumstance and blood
Her life a long
Exhalation of birthings until
the last one out of the canal is herself alone
Sufficient
Reveled in solitude
how I love and cherish them
How I have followed them all my life
Their beacon, their amplitude, their ripe sanctuary.

 

First appeared in The Boy The Brave Girls, 2016, Human Error Publishing, Wendell, Mass

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