Friday, October 14, 2011

Dozing in the Speckled Shade

Where The Poem Sleeps
by Michael Simms

You have to write every day
because you never know where a poem sleeps

It might be coiled around a branch
high in the air
dozing in the speckled shade

It might be dreaming in a story you loved
when you were a mouse
in a wall much larger than now

You may find a poem in a cloud
a boy watches, thinking
of the one time he went fishing with a bear

But you have to let it happen
you have to listen real hard

The poem can survive a night
in the woods alone, curled up
under an elm tree
after a day of looking for you

It can even be happy as a stone in the river
if it knows you are waiting for it to come home

And you are waiting
as darkness descends
and the birds become invisible
on the branches
          their nests
like the thoughts of drowsy mathematicians


The Summer You Learned to Swim

by Michael Simms
for Lea

The summer you learned to swim
was the summer I learned to be at peace with myself.
In May you were afraid to put your face in the water
But by August, I was standing in the pool once more
when you dove in, then retreated to the wall saying
You forgot to say Sugar! So I said Come on Sugar, you can do it
and you pushed off and swam to me and held on
laughing, your hair stuck to your cheeks—
you hiccupped with joy and swam off again.

And I dove in too, trying new things.
I tried not giving advice. I tried waking early to pray. I tried
not rising in anger. Watching you I grew stronger—
your courage washed away my fear.

All day I worked hard thinking of you.
In the evening I walked the long hill home.
You were at the top, waving your small arms,
pittering down the slope to me and I lifted you high
so high to the moon. That summer all the world
was soul and water, light glancing off peaks.
You learned the turtle, the cannonball, the froggy, and the flutter
And I learned to stand and wait for you to swim to me.


from The Happiness of Animals published by Monkey Sea Editions, copyright 2003 by Michael Simms. Posted with permission of the poet.

Dave has our Poetry Friday round-up this week.


Heidi Mordhorst said...

Huh. I would like to meet this Michael Simms. Both these poems do the thing I like best: freeze me gently in my tracks, reach in, and pull something new and familiar right out into the light.

Thanks, Tabatha.

jama said...

Another new to me poet. Enjoyed both of these :)!

Irene Latham said...

I love the thought of a poem sleeping, waiting to be awakened... thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

the poems do find us, it seems, though i hadn't considered what they did before they found us, all curled under trees and such.

hmm. now i want to stalk other people's poems and see what they look like...

GatheringBooks said...

I love how both poems evoke the vision of patience required for such long waiting periods...

the waiting "for you to swim to me" and the waiting "under an elm tree after a day of looking for you" in both verse

captures my mood. made me linger in the waiting. that being an end in itself. :)

Mandy said...

Wow, great poems. I tried to teach my son to swim this summer but had to settle for getting him to go down the water slide (which he loves now) with me there to catch him at the bottom. Hopefully next year he'll actually swim!

Joyce Ray said...

I love the idea of a poem waiting to come home to us! Both beautiful poems, Tabitha. Thank you!

Mary Lee said...

Love both poems, though I would have left the drowsy mathematicians out of the first one...that was sort of jarring to me.

Love it that we both featured sleep in our poems this week!

Ruth said...

Both of these are beautiful. I love the idea of those sleeping poems.