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November Poem by Judith Slater

November 26, 2012

It’s been a rough month, kind of – weather destroying much of the shore and displacing family and friends alike. It’s turned colder, and this turned up in my inbox today from American Life in Poetry, and it spoke to me. Sometimes you want to run away, but then, you realize you want the very things you’re running from, and turn back…

Family Vacation

Four weeks in, quarreling and far
from home, we came to the loneliest place.
A western railroad town. Remember?
I left you at the campsite with greasy pans
and told our children not to follow me.
The dying light had made me desperate.
I broke into a hobbled run, across tracks,
past warehouses with sun-blanked windows
to where a playground shone in a wooded clearing.
Then I was swinging, out over treetops.
I saw myself never going back, yet
whatever breathed in the mute woods
was not another life. The sun sank.
I let the swing die, my toes scuffed earth,
and I was rocked into remembrance
of the girl who had dreamed the life I had.
Through night, dark at the root, I returned to it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2012 1:42 am

    [Good to see you blogging, Eileen.]

    Yikes, when I first read this, I thought it was even darker that it is!

    Then I was swinging, out over treetops.
    I saw myself never going back

    [I think I may be influenced by It’s Margaret, performing a funeral service for a 12 year old. Yes, he died that way.]

    God grant us all Light, at this dark (N Hemisphere!) time of year…

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      November 27, 2012 11:28 am

      Hey JC! I had the same initial impression about the darkness of the poem, but, the more I thought about it, it seemed to say something else.

      I’ve been in that place – not the check out for good place – but the edge of it. In that place, you don’t want to die – you just want to disappear, and reappear elsewhere, I think. Stress, monotony, boredom, frustration make escape seem promising. But in reality it’s just trading problems – at least that’s been my experience. Your mileage may vary.

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