I didn’t know I loved the spirit in soil deep under reed marshes connected to it through my bones a vision of roiling life
I didn’t know I loved to sing that song could make me cry joy a quick moment on the backs of notes voices together light to dark
I didn’t know that I loved sense of place color memories until they were gone layered goodbyes in dim sunlight dusty motes on gray air
I didn’t know I still loved touch thought it dried and done but not forgotten only to find a fire so ready lit my blood sang even as I would cry aloud
I didn’t know that I loved words that they would fill every empty place pull me with them words from my eyes words from unheard thought
I didn’t know how much I loved my life sweet along with sharp and hard rushing in over tidal flats escaping just as fast that I could cherish it not just live it
____________________________________________ This list poem came out of a short poetry workshop taught in 2015 by the poet Doug Anderson. We read Things I Didn’t Know I Loved by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, and were prompted to write our own list poem by the same title. This is the revised version.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” said Charles Dickens. Actually he only wrote it. Dirk Bogarde, my favorite Sidney Carton, said it with eyes shining in the dark. Words reduced to threads at the edge of a frayed cliche. Being able to hold thoughts in my hand for a while as they dribble down the length of my fingers, to land drip sandcastle upright as words on paper. It took forever to learn, but I have no regrets. If only words could cure the world as easily as pull the wool over our eyes. If widdershins could disperse oil spills or brillig or gyre could hoist a lance to run neatly through the heart of hate. That kind of thing. Words for the worst of times.
A mourning dove in my apple tree looks through the window its message meant to prod sun shrinks as the cold returns woods maple tops spike leafless now bronze oaks and candle beech stand guard water lilies sink into the pond again a scooped out moon brings frost bears already denned up the hill not quite past time for seeds but hurry or jays will bring their beaks
I was convinced she would never leave even though the truth of it ran alongside faster as she slowed in the end a quiet moment took the comfort of her large dog self and tucked it in the sky now her gaze is a soft kiss on clear nights when the stars are watching