there was time this morning…

…to read two poems from Jorie Graham’s stunning collection, Place (Ecco, 2012), while I drank my coffee in bed. They are dense poems, scary in their intensity, and this morning a phrase entered my heart, made me shake while I continued reading. It was from the poem “The Bird That Begins It”:

                                                  What is the job today my being

                                                               asks of

                                                               light. Please

tell me my job.

I thought of all the mornings when I woke, never asking. And I thought of what I loved — the moments in light, winter or summer, firelight, sunlight, the soft light of an oil-lamp when the power went out and we read anyway, our books held close to the flame. I remembered our small fires on White Pine Island, cooking over them, our boat bumping against the rocks, and look, there’s Lily (dead nearly 20 years) heading down to the water.


8 thoughts on “there was time this morning…”

  1. The question changes with time, doesn’t it? I am asking myself the inverse: What isn’t my job? Mother, daughter, wife, friend, aunt, individual, bread winner, creator….hard to attach any scale for weighing the importance of the demands of one against the other. Something and someone always come up short.

    1. Always changing, always shifting, like the light, and the passage of years. I’d forgotten this particular day — one of many like it — with the sweetness of that fire and the scruffy beauty of my family, the dog (who smelled truly awful!), and that view of the mountain behind.

    1. Kerri, I’ll look at your blog. I think Jori Graham is one of the finest contemporary poets. There’s something electric about her poetry, a sizzling intelligence at work, and my husband (a poet) always says it’s Whitmanesque. So “I sing the body electric” — maybe…? Anyway, we have all her books and this one is extraordinary.

      1. My local library has several of her books, although not the one you mentioned. I am writing a book right now myself (literary fiction) and have been unable to read any books lately as I don’t like to dilute/pollute my voice. Poetry is the perfect remedy, and I will be diving into some long overdue reading with Graham’s poetry. Thanks!

  2. The aforementioned John here (John Pass). I’m often peeking into Theresa’s blog as it’s sometimes a quicker way into her thinking than sharing our morning coffee. I haven’t left a comment before but mention of Jorie Graham prompts me to add that she’s Whitmanesque philosophically too, with incredible and incisive range, the best poet we have bridging modernism/postmodernism. My favourite of her books is The Errancy with its exquisite enjambment of errand (kight errant, task, quest, job today. . ) and error, the oblique meanders and misreadings that dance most closely with TRUTH.

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