Friday, October 7, 2016

Poetry memories

I bring you with reverent hands
The books of my numberless dreams.
~W.B. Yeats



Another poem from the archives (for Linda Mitchell, who requested one!).

President-Poet
by Tabatha Yeatts
for J.C.

My husband offers me his arm
in the brisk December air
and we cross the crowded lot to the
bookstore, where the line is almost
out the door, almost, but not quite,
and I am grateful for the mercy
of an indoor line and places to lean against
as I hold your book in one hand
and my heavy belly with the other.

I shift my weight uncomfortably as I wait,
too tired to be truly impatient,
in the long line that winds slowly to you.
I am one strangely-shapen leg
in a lengthy human caterpillar that flows up
the stairs to the table where you are signing books.
We cannot linger but must continue past you,
the leaf that we all want a bite of.

I wait, my teal sweater stretching
over the baby who is nearly here,
my hair pulled back in a ponytail
away from a face that is round
even when it isn't nine months pregnant.
You seem both frail and stalwart,
signing your name over and over,
over and over again,
dedicated to this crazy proposition -- poetry --
and I sag against the wall, stubbornly determined
to support you in this strange endeavor.

What pushes you, whose exterior
was analyzed so deeply and relentlessly,
to offer your inner workings, your
edges, your long breaths, reaching for the sun? Perhaps
you know that among politicians, there are many
who can understand deception, but few who
can fathom an honest verse.

I watch your purple-haired
illustrator-granddaughter
smiling as she also signs the books,
see your pride as you glance over.
Finally, I reach you and you look at me,
at the signs of the butterfly
that won't stay long in this chrysalis,
and surprise flickers across your face
that I waited for you. Mr President,
how could I not come bear witness
to your paper-baby, fluttering away
with your heart as fast
as you can sign your name?

************

Notes:

The soon-to-arrive baby in the poem is Ariana.

I sent "President-Poet" to the poem's subject, and he replied: "To Tabatha, Thanks for bringing back fond memories so beautifully! Best wishes, Jimmy C."

Violet Nesdoly has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Violet!

16 comments:

Sally Murphy said...

Wow Tabatha. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Doraine Bennett said...

This is beautiful, Tabatha. He is such a gracious man. I live about an hour and a half from Plains where he would walk around town and stop to talk to anyone who wanted a photo or an autograph.

Linda B said...

It's a wonderful memory you've captured, and now let us know about too, Tabatha. How nice that he wrote you back too, but I'm not surprised. There are little parts in your poem that sadden me, how he was so maligned as a president, I guess because he didn't play that awful political game. What an election time this is! Thanks for digging out just the perfect poem for us today!

jama said...

What a beautiful poem -- so glad you decided to share it today! Nice to read something positive about a President during this contentious election season. How cool that President Carter replied! Wonderful that you froze this memory in verse.

Jane @ raincitylibrarian.wordpress.com said...

Beautiful!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

This one I most definitely remember, Tabatha. It's still as good as the day I first read it. Actually... it might be better.

Violet Nesdoly said...

How lovely, Tabatha. Such moments stay in memory regardless, but so much more when they're captured in a poem. Love these lines:
"Finally, I reach you and you look at me,
at the signs of the butterfly
that won't stay long in this chrysalis,"

and the reference to his "paper-baby."

Plus the butterfly is a beautiful poetic specimen in her own right!

katswhiskers said...

Breathless beautiful.
The poem, the moment, the share, the response, and the link to the cycle continuing. So much to love.

Mary Lee said...

Wow! Love your metaphor of caterpillar line and butterfly babies (book and human). I was right there with you all the way to the table.

Diane Mayr said...

I remember liking it the first time you posted it, but this time, it made me cry. Probably because of the human-ness of the president, who still, after all these years, strives to bring some justice, and beauty, to this world. Thanks for sharing it again, Tabatha!

Julieanne said...

Such a thoughtful, complex post. The moment relived, the butterfly babies. Thank you for sharing again.

Mitchell Linda said...

Wow! I am so blessed to read this poem.....and you know or guessed one of my not so secret secrets --my love for politics. Bravo for an oldie but goodie poem. I do love the idea of a book baby....and baby baby. Wonderful job.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Wow, Tabatha! I feel like I've never read something quite like that from you, and it is quietly very wonderful and loudly skilled, not to mention historically and politically interesting. I didn't know that JC had written poetry. I think it's such a shame that the presidency of this good man (the first that I was really attentive to as a kid) isn't considered successful. I think the reason I love Barack so much is that he has proved that it's possible to be a decent and honorable person AND to be good leader.

May Trump fall into the deep hole he has dug himself and never climb out.

Brenda Harsham said...

I agree with the others. Just lovely.

kold_kadavr_ flatliner said...

Yay! You RITE!! Gotta lotta subliminal elixers, excursive elegance on our 22ish ...?? blogs. N'joym, dear, and meet me Upstairs. Let's getta Big-Ol beer. Gotta lotta tok about.

PS gain altitude, not attitude, girl.

Ruth said...

I love this, and especially that you shared it with him and he responded! How great is that?