American Life in Poetry: Column 204


Memories form around details the way a pearl forms around a grain of sand, and in this commemoration of an anniversary, Cecilia Woloch reaches back to grasp a few details that promise to bring a cherished memory forward, and succeeds in doing so. The poet lives and teaches in southern California.


Didn't I stand there once,

white-knuckled, gripping the just-lit taper,

swearing I'd never go back?

And hadn't you kissed the rain from my mouth?

And weren't we gentle and awed and afraid,

knowing we'd stepped from the room of desire

into the further room of love?

And wasn't it sacred, the sweetness

we licked from each other's hands?

And were we not lovely, then, were we not

as lovely as thunder, and damp grass, and flame?

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2008 by Cecilia Woloch. Reprinted from "Narcissus," by Cecilia Woloch, Tupelo Press, Dorset, VT, 2008, by permission of Cecilia Woloch.  Introduction copyright (c) 2009 by The Poetry Foundation.  The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.  We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.