Three Yaddo Poets Extend Their Hands

April 22, 2020

A moment of stillness, a zing of recognition, a window opened on the soul— these are among the rewards of poetry, each of them sorely needed right now. Join us here for an occasional Yaddo series, curated by Soren Stockman.

June Jordan Photo: Gwen Phillips

“Poem for Haruko” by June Jordan

June Jordan, “Poem for Haruko” from Directed by Desire. Copyright © 2005 by June Jordan. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. Source: Directed by Desire (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)

Jordan’s speaker distinguishes between reminiscing and reliving. She begins “I never thought I’d keep a record of my pain / or happiness.” Though the cause of such mindful transition is at first unclear, the borders of the present moment open, swirling chronology to accommodate as wide a harbor of immediate peace as possible. “But now I do / receive an afternoon of apricots,” and “the low tide” of another’s unthinking touch. “Now I do / relive an evening . . . of lust and tender trembling” in which sensation threw its wild arms in the air. Admitting finally to being “alone and longing for you,” and so in need of time’s sudden simultaneity, she succeeds in ushering it forth: “now I do.” — SS

Patricia Spears Jones Photo: KalaLea

“May Perpetual Light Shine” by Patricia Spears Jones

Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Spears Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 17, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Love is the original and persistent pattern threaded into our human days and nights. If our emotional reservoirs may shelter us from “storms / perfect in their drench and wreck,” offering a space in which to hold and calm whatever comes, we owe their grandeur to “love, what can become / the heart’s food stored away for some future / famine.” The night is dark, as is our grief, yet both permit the private sparkles of “stars embracing” far enough away that time cannot reach them. It is not possible to grieve that which we have not loved. It is not possible for love to disappear. — SS

Stanley Kunitz Photo: Lynn Saville

“Touch Me” by Stanley Kunitz

Copyright © 1995 by Stanley Kunitz. All rights reserved. Used by permission. from Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (W. W. Norton, 1995)

Distress is not necessary to our sense of self burrowing underground. Time’s passing can deepen the hole in which our lives hide without any assistance. “It is my heart that’s late,” Kunitz laments, “it is my song that’s flown.” Below ground, the faintest whispers of the earth are discernible, “the crickets trilling . . . so clear / and brave a music” that “desire, desire, desire” may again stir in us. Tenderness exhumes the spirit, and does not care for it’s battered reasoning, nor for it’s former lack. “Darling, do you remember / the man you married?” asks love. “Touch me,” we answer, “remind me who I am.” — SS