This poem dates back to my sophomore year in college. I don’t remember (fully) what inspired it, but every few years I suddenly think to pull it out, and it speaks to me in a new way.
I’ve come to believe that our compositions can be the medium of personal revelation — that items we write in our journal, in our e-mails, on our blogs can return to us later in life, like love letters from our past.
I rarely share my poetry with others, but in dark and confusing times I have had lines from my own hand drift back to me. And beyond the comfort or insight the words might provide, these experiences leave me feeling . . . . known.
Forget I am good and have always
wanted to be good
and still do.
There’s this legend in my mountain
of an Indian Maiden (with a 20 inch waist)
who dances off the summit
to feed the mountain God
and make her people right with him.
We know she was good and
I have tried to trace
her bosom’s cragged silhouette.
Anyone can see her from my mother’s porch.
My brother told me another story
of a woman who wakes at 3 am
to watch beavers in the canyon.
I’ve heard she knows what
goodness looks like, like
the architecture of the wind, I hear.
She goes alone. I do not know
her people or her shape.
I take to the Charles River alone
at 3 am and from the fourth floor I could
dance right down to the highway below.
And would I
if it would right
God to my people or my people to God
or if I’d be remembered
as good in a 20 inch waist
as I fell
I saw the wind?