Saturday, October 17, 2020

We Have a Winner



Who among us is at peace these days? 


Not I.


Who among us sees the world as better than it was yesterday?


Not I.


Who among us has hope?


I do. Perhaps because I read poetry, and one of my very favorite poets just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Congratulations Louise Glück.


I was introduced to her work by my son, who’d taken a poetry seminar with her at university and had the honor of dining with her and her family. He raved about her skill and compassion. “The Wild Iris” was the first of her collections that I read, and it won the Pulitzer Prize. 


There is something about poetry that calms my soul and inspires me to work harder at finding the proper meter for my own prose.  These days, it also serves as my antidote for the consequences of failing to stay properly social distanced from 24/7 cable network news coverage.  To see what I mean, here is a poem published in her 1992 The Wild Iris collection, titled “Vespers.”


In your extended absence, you permit me

use of earth, anticipating

some return on investment. I must report

failure in my assignment, principally

regarding the tomato plants.

I think I should not be encouraged to grow

tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold

the heavy rains, the cold nights that come

so often here, while other regions get

twelve weeks of summer. All this

belongs to you: on the other hand,

I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots

like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart

broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly

multiplying in the rows. I doubt

you have a heart, in our understanding of

that term. You who do not discriminate

between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,

immune to foreshadowing, you may not know

how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,

the red leaves of the maple falling

even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible

for these vines.


© 1992 Louise Glück




In these times, I’d venture to say we’re all “responsible for these vines.”


On an unrelated matter, I extend my congratulations to all the Sacramento Bouchercon 2020 folk who turned a seeming pandemic disaster into a much-praised on-line success.  To Co-Chairs Michele Drier and Rae James, and national board chair Mike (“Mystery Mike”) Bursaw, as well as the many volunteers who kept the  Bouchercon flag flying high over this weekend’s virtual tour de force, I say “Bravo” and thank you on behalf of the crime lovers community.


Next year in New Orleans!