Reading Whitman on Roque Island

by on Feb 9, 2016

It is unfashionable to honor those who came before us,
and yet I sit in the house
of George Augustus Gardner,
of Isabella Stewart, reading the only book of poetry I can find.
It’s like he speaks to me, here in the drawing room,
to a life lived on the edge of privilege,
on the edge of belonging,
on the edge of a great good fortune.

There are no stevedores now, few butcher boys or drovers
but I hear their song and I remember their voices as my own.
Unlock my soul.
Give me the voice of farmers,
of the unpaid intern trying to grow wiser than her birthright.
Give me the voice of the lobstermen, of the housewife
making jellies in her kitchen, of the ambulance driver
picking up drunks and meth addicts one more time.
Give me the whistling song of the carpenter keeping time with his hammer.

Uncle Walt, your grass is under my feet, your words are in my head.
I know I am an uneasy guest
on this green and holy island.

 


Dervishspin lives with her husband and 3 cats in a cohousing community in Berlin Massachusetts. Under her mundane name, Dervishspin studied poetry at Mount Holyoke College with Christopher Benfy and Mary Jo Salter. She has not quit her day job.

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