5 Excerpts from Poems That Have Stayed with Me Since the First Read

by a contributor

from Elizabeth Word Gutting, author of Commencement Speech:

1. From “The Glass Essay” by Anne Carson:

Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
It is as if I could dip my hand down

into time and scoop up
blue and green lozenges of April heat
a year ago in another country.

2. From “Pool #3” by Arda Collins:

…looking at the pictures of the ice creams
on a deep blue background;
reading the names and descriptions
of all of them, each one
shown with a bite out of it
so you can see what the inside looks like.
I would like to do this with people
So that I can see all the swimming pools inside them.
I’m hiding because I don’t want
the ice cream man to see my swimming pools.

3. From “Guilty of Dust” by Frank Bidart:

up or down from the infinite C E N T E R
B R I M M I N G at the winking rim of time

the voice in my head said



4. From “Dream Song 145” by John Berryman:

I cannot read that wretched mind, so strong

& so undone. I’ve always tried. I—I’m
trying to forgive
whose frantic passage, when he could not live
an instant longer, in the summer dawn
left Henry to live on.

5. From All That Is by James Salter – this one is not a poem, though his wonderful sentences – some of the best, I think, written by any living writer – so often read like poetry…

He often thought about death but usually in pity for an animal or fish or seeing the dying grass in the fall or the monarch butterflies clinging to milkweed and feeding for the great funeral flight. Were they aware of it somehow, the strength it would take, the heroic strength? He thought about death, but he had never been able to imagine it, the unbeing while all else still existed.