Sunday, February 2, 2014

Silent poetry reading: Natasha Trethewey

Today, February 2nd, is the feast of St. Brigid. To mark the day, I'm joining others in the "Silent Poetry Reading" that takes place in the blogosphere this time each year. I've decided to include a poem by Natasha Trethewey, our Poet Laureate, whom I met last year at my school (and briefly 10+ years ago--as I left the Emory campus to move to Ohio for my job, she had just arrived as a new professor). I love her work.

I chose this poem because the topic of "home"--our theme in my freshman writing class as well as the women's literature class I'm teaching this semester--has been on my mind lately. Home and memory, and figuring out what those things are, keeps coming back in my own writing.

Enjoy. I hope you have occasion to read poetry. Every day, if possible.


"Theories of Time and Space," by Natasha Trethewey

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion—dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp—buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry—tome of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph—who you were—
will be waiting when you return.