It’s called “putting the book to bed” when you turn in your final version of a whole bunch of pages about to be published as a real, live book. Ten minutes ago, I put Following the Curve, my next book of poetry, to bed, tucking it into an email, covering it with kisses, and wishing it well. It was a long time coming as all books, and especially poetry books are. That’s because I find that poetry can be almost infinitely revised — there are thousands of ways to break a line, add or subtract punctuation, change a word, or kill a darling (editing out a beloved line because it’s not needed).
To celebrate, I write this blog post, and I share the ending poem from this new collection:
Your Body is a Conversation With the World
What are you waiting for? From the first air
in the first room, while a winter radiator breathed
enough warmth for your your mother,
the world was chatting you up.
You gasped, you cried, you waved your tiny hands
for the ocean you left, and the story laughed itself silly
in each cell until it multiplied into millions more
marching to or denying the heart’s measured drum.
Your body watches the moth on the other side
of the screen, drinks the water from the blue glass,
and jumps in its sleep, so much dialogue in this
continuing tender reckoning of bare foot on gravel,
whippoorwill telling the ears of nightfall.
You’re always in conversation about how you’re not
a separate animal but a talisman of your own place
alongside the freeway and the prairie,
each step another word, each shrug another question
for the lightning bug caught on the ceiling,
the cat leaping from refrigerator to your shoulder,
the wind or its absence evident in the still grasses.
The answers may knock you over or have nothing to do
with the question you’re pacing across the day.
Time tells its stories through your body,
so yoked to this love that it cannot stop singing.