This I Believe
I believe in poetry. From the first time I read a poem in Circus Magazine at the age of eighteen–and said to myself that I can do this–I have believed in poetry. I am addicted to poetry.
Poems have followed me through thirty-three years of marriage and thirty-four years of teaching reading to young children. They have chronicled the births of my children and the losses of people I love. Poems have captured a history of my family and preserved stories heard at long ago Thanksgiving dinners.
Long before my poems were published, I wrote poems for my wife. I wrote poems for cards and framed them as presents. I wrote constantly, even at times when I thought there must be more valuable things that I should have been doing like splitting wood or waxing my car.
I wrote through years of insomnia, filling notebook after notebook, until they stood like soldiers in a line across my bookshelves. I wrote about water: the sea, creeks, rivers, and lakes. I believe that fishing is a thred that connects the diverse souls in my family. Then I turned my pen to the work of teaching.
I believe in the poems I wrote about children who struggle to read. I wrote about the little miracles I witnessed like a child noticing for the very first time that the words she read aloud did not match those on the page and she stopped in awe, the way one stops to witness a rainbow, and that stopping was a miracle.
I believe that after thirty-four years of teaching that it was time for me to stop. I retired in June, yet I can’t stop thinking about the students, about all the years, the faces. I believe the poems I wrote and the ones I write today, will enable me to make sense of this life that I have been blessed with.
I believe poems are as necessary to my existance as the bread I eat or the air I breathe. I read poems by Len Roberts, Sharon Olds, Ted Kooser, the way others read psalms from the bible. I have too. They allow me to go on, to take another step, to look forward, and to remember:
all recorded inside
in metal drawers
as I carried
out to my truck
their bottoms sagging
from the weight.
This I believe.
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