April is Poetry Month, and for this I am always grateful, but especially during isolation. Poetry and art connect and converse soul to soul to soul. It is the language that I turn to try to understand our human-ness in relation to all of nature. It has been said (by A. O. Scott, and I paraphrase) that poetry and all forms of art “Shows us something we didn’t know we needed to (hear and) see.” It is also an antidote to political-speak.
The New York Times (thankfully) prints a poem by a published poet every week in their Magazine section, and each poem is chosen by a national or regional poet laureate. The poem sits quietly but squarely between pages of recipes, science articles, ethical questions, current events and the renowned crossword puzzle. I do not enjoy every poem, however the ones that speak to me inspire and ignite my own writing and kindle awe.
The poem Songs and Stones by Jacqueline Saphra was published on
October 27, 2019 and chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye,
the 2019-21 Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation, Chicago.
Songs and Stones
by Jacqueline Saphra
This head is heavy
with irreconcilable weights.
These worlds: how to balance
the scales, how to bear the ache.
Love stuns and buds in the bone,
terrors rattle the skull.
Sleep flickers and lifts the lids.
This neck is a buckled pillar.
From one eye, tears of rage;
from the other, tears of blessing.
These sobs are stones,
these sobs are songs.
How do I free these oppositions
from my throat?
I no longer know which one
is making it so hard to swallow.