I fell into poetry in the spring of 1967. I was over the moon in love with Ralph Gordon and poetry was my only written form. My honor’s professor, Dr. Snow said, “Miss Kessler, prose is required for this class.”
Since then I have found poetry everywhere: in Kipling’s The Jungle Book as Mother Wolf stands against the enraged tiger, Sher Khan. I told this story and abused children cheered for the fiercest mother they had ever seen, the mother they wished they had. There is Ann Sexton’s poetry, the words of an unfettered mind in a too constrained world. Mary Oliver’s Dreamwork, is thumb-worn and stained, because I return to this first volume of Oliver’s again and again, to call distressed clients forward into forgiveness for themselves, into some rage, into some love and a fuller life.
Now, I share my own poetry in house concerts, workshops and at Essential Sundays in Baltimore. Poetry is the way I find words for two red tails, for the shifting, sometimes felt, presence of my daughter, for a dog who recognizes one owl, for a defiant 15 year old. I would not have known these things so clearly except for taking the time to write them out, line by line.
Last Night, Leave-taking by Susan Gordon
Last night I could feel, could see,
Mostly I don’t let myself know these things.
But last night I could feel, see,
in white-T-shirt and a goldy tan, your leaving.
I could almost taste your going
Your slipping to one side,
your sliding out of sight.
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