'You're what roof I have, frail thing, you're my argument against the whole sky'

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I recently had the privilege of editing Connie Wanek's Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems,for the University of Nebraska Press. I had been in Duluth a number of years ago, and the following poem, now included in that book, is one that I heard her read while I was there. Since that day I have been a devoted fan of her magical, playful, resonant poetry. 




UMBRELLA

by Connie Wanek

 

When I push your button
you fly off the handle,
old skin and bones,
black bat wing.

We're alike, you and I.
Both of us
resemble my mother,
so fierce in her advocacy

on behalf of
the most vulnerable child
who'll catch his death
in this tempest.

Such a headwind!
Sometimes it requires
all my strength
just to end a line.

But when the wind is at
my back, we're likely
to get carried away, and say
something we can never retract,

something saturated from the ribs
down, an old stony
word like ruin. You're what roof
I have, frail thing,

you're my argument
against the whole sky.
You're the fundamental difference
between wet and dry. 

 

American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem ©2010 by Connie Wanek, 'Umbrella', from Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems, (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Connie Wanek and the publisher. Introduction ©2017 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 2004-06.

 

 

◄ 'To earth we return' by elPintor is Write Out Loud Poem of the Week

Write Out Loud at Stockport art gallery tonight ►

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