May 2023

I’ve been thinking about bridges, both real and metaphorical. This moderate obsession started several months ago when Northfield Poet Laureate Rob Hardy issued a call for topographical poems about Northfield. On May 13, readers and listeners will move from site to site throughout the day for the Northfield Poetry Tour to experience poems about place. The challenge for me was to choose just one place. I kept returning to a pedestrian bridge over the Cannon River in downtown Northfield. Because there’s no car traffic, I can linger and watch the river move. Some days it’s slapping and turning, other days barely moving. Water reminds me that it’s natural to respond to weather.

April was a chilly month. Ice lingered, and some days seemed endlessly gray as the campus where I teach faced a threat of gun violence. We were spared the physical violence, but community healing conversations revealed how individuals carry impacts and memories of one mass shooting after another. As I wrote a poem every day for National Poetry Month, I was grateful for a small group sharing our poems. Our anger and impatience, our calls for mutual care, and, yes, even the weather, emerged as common threads. Our daily poems were bridges across fear and isolation when I most needed connection.

The first of these new poems to go public, “Great Egrets Return,” was featured on Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. If you want to receive a poem each morning, I encourage you to subscribe. Or you can browse the eclectic archive of poems.

As dandelions burst on the fields and lawns, I’m finishing a second edition of Let Birds Be Whole in a Broken World. Each of the ten small books holds one sentence of a 10-line poem. They are outdoor installation pieces, to be hung from trees and read in any order. Together readers make sense of the whole from their experience of the fragments. The text is hand-stamped, one letter at a time. Purely meditative work.

Although poetry month has ended for another year, poems go forward. If you’re in or near Northfield, I hope to see you on May 13. While poems are bridges, they are sometimes lifelines. My recommendation this month is a new anthology, Poetry of Presence II: More Mindfulness Poems. Published on May 1, this collection blends new and familiar voices I’m longing to hear.