Maxine Kumin 1925 – 2014, Poet, Author, Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (now known as U.S. Poet Laureate). Pulitzer Prize winner who left us with a large and varied legacy of her works ranging from Poetry, Essays, Novels, Memoirs and Children’s Books.
How It Is
Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
You’ve come to visit, he’s ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
Delivered up last August on the Bay State Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
A flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.
I think of the last day of your life,
Old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
It together in a different collage,
Back from the death car idling in the garage,
Back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
Reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
Into a ceremony of sandwich,
Running the home movie backward to a space
We could be easy in, a kitchen place
With vodka and ice, our words like living meat.
Dear friend, you have excited crowds,
With your example. They swell
Like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
Fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
Leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
To put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.
– Maxine Kumin
While there is a wealth of current poets and authors, there is much to be gained by reading the works of those who have gone before us. While reading a book by the late Carolyn G. Heilbrun, I was introduced to the work of Kumin. There is a special joy in discovering another trove of treasures and perhaps some of you will stop by and mention a few that you have discovered recently.