National Poetry Month begins

In the Berkshires. WordxWord has kicked off its 30/30 poetry challenge — through Facebook this year — and NaPoWriMo has begun the 2016 friendly challenge to write a poem a day this month. I will follow both as closely as I can.

NaPoWriMo opened with a Lune, a poetry form inspired by Haiku. A traditional Lune has five syllables in the first line, then three, then five. I’ve played with avariation … five words in the first line, then three. The 30/30 prompt was “songs in the heart.” So here is a beginning and a salute to April.

 

Between bare twigs I saw

two merganser ducks

who touched down last night.

 

The first blood-warm rain

comes closer, beating,

and my heart is light.

 

Day 2 — NaPoWriMo’s prompt for today is a family photo. 30/30’s is “bewildered,” which a quick search tells me comes originally for “led into the woods,” from wilderness … which shares roots with wild deer.

 

The first time I held you,
the first time I cupped a hand
under your down-fine hair,
you could not lift your head.
Sitting on the old coffee-colored
woven couch, I remember warmth,
our parents’ voices telling me
how to keep you safe, your weight
on my knees, the back of your head
filling my hand. And I was six,
it was summer, and you were
newly home. Clean, quiet,
alive. My brother asleep.

And sitting close, leaning over,
you watched him in the lamp light,
your head on my shoulder. I wish
I could remember holding you
like this, but you were there
before language, before sentences,
before the uncountable mornings
we danced on the orange rug
to our parents’ college records —
Ray Charles and Roberta Flack,
Hair while our mother made bread,
John Denver while our father dug
beds for herbs and zinnias,
blood root and bleeding heart.
Spring and my sister dancing.

How has it become
so rare to love like this?
Jumping into mud puddles,
castles in maple stumps,
lemon chicken in a college dorm,
calling you on the kitchen floor
in my first apartment
when my first love left me —
no, only my first in-love.
Love has a wider range.
Across 3,000 miles of rock
we are where we have always been
with our arms around each other.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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