Here are the products of the last day of the CSUWP Summer Institute. The first is a poem that came out of a fantastic workshop by Selah Saterstrom. She asked us to think first of a word that interested us, that we latched on to in some way. My choice: ebullience. Next step was to think of someone we loved who was absent, “could be in heaven or Ohio,” she said. I chose my dad. We wrote. We cut. And cut. And cut some more. You can see the results below.
The second poem is the product of our summer institute writing marathon on Pearl Street in Boulder. It was actually borne from my marginally hysterical laughter as I tried to read the first poem, but was interrupted by the “sweet” music of a nearby piano man.
I would say you had to be there, but if you read this poem, in some small way, you will.
Here they are:
But there was that day and
I can still feel you pushing it down your limbs
till it traveled like a current
through the crushed stalks of my arms.
Knowing that thing.
It could possess me.
Trying not to cry in front of everyone
over the shock of it
when happiness should be the thing they saw.
And once more,
when I was playing, and you were singing,
the glowing in your voice I’d never heard,
the hymnal shaking in our shared hands,
the shy harmony of it.
Pearl Street Prodigy
So many people with canes. Not for walking, but for shepherding or parting the Red Sea,
So many women in tight neon green Prana stretched taut over their protruding bellies,
that I am surprised, upon approach, to see them menopausal.
So many glittery magicians in this heat and fair-trade coffees to sip and purvey,
So many old-school marquis and street fountains and children with soggy bottoms listening to Kenny Loggins coo through their soundproof headphones,
So many bronze rodents and scowling, screeching predators frozen mid-air,
So many puppies in $30 hemp collars and untuned pianos,
That I am inspired to play.
I, in my bold suit and collar buttoned down,
Unfurl my confidence and hover my fingers
Over the keys
I, now stumbling
and wishing I had paid more attention
To wide-hipped Miss Harrell
Crowding the piano bench when I was ten
To her coaxing of
My still-freckled hands
To stop pounding,
To mind the metronome for godsake,
And just play.