Poem of the Month: September

“Poetry is capable of this magic, or it can really enchant you very quickly and take you to a different place suddenly, or introduce you to deep feeling just for a moment. And … I love that.”
— Rich Levy
“Poetry is capable of this magic, or it can really enchant you very quickly and take you to a different place suddenly,
or introduce you to deep feeling just for a moment. And … I love that.”
— Rich Levy

Peggy Freydberg began writing poetry at age 90, which makes me so happy—she’s a role model for me. She continued writing poetry until her death at age 107. I love her poem “Chorus of Cells” for its accessibility and meaning and for her stark approach to age. The last three lines are so brilliant and relatable. As you read her poem below, you’ll find her words are almost musical.

 

Chorus of Cells

by Peggy Freydberg

 

Every morning,

even being very old,

(or perhaps because of it),

I like to make my bed.

In fact, the starting of each day

unhelplessly

is the biggest thing I ever do.

I smooth away the dreams disclosed by tangled sheets,

I smack the dented pillow’s revelations to oblivion,

I finish with the pattern of the spread exactly centered.

The night is won.

And now the day can open.

 

All this I like to do,

mastering the making of my bed

with hands that trust beginnings.

All this I need to do,

directed by the silent message

of the luxury of my breathing.

 

And every night,

I like to fold the covers back,

and get in bed,

and live the dark, wise poetry of the night’s dreaming,

dreading the extent of its improbabilities,

but surrendering to the truth it knows and I do not;

even though its technicolor cruelties,

or the music of its myths,

feels like someone else’s experience,

not mine.

 

I know that I could no more cease

to want to make my bed each morning,

and fold the covers back at night,

than I could cease
to want to put one foot before the other.

 

Being very old and so because of it,

all this I am compelled to do,

day after day,

night after night,

directed by the silent message

of the constancy of my breathing,

that bears the news I am alive.

 

 

(Photo by John Towner found here.

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