Tamsin Smith joined the women of Parlay to share poetry–both hers and those who inspire her.
Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Dove That Ventured Outside
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Dove that ventured outside,
flying far from the dovecote:
housed and protected again,
one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is,
for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear
in the course of her wanderings.
The doves that remained at home,
never exposed to loss,
innocent and secure,
cannot know tenderness;
only the won-back heart
can ever be satisfied: free,
through all it has given up,
to rejoice in its mastery.
Being arches itself
over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared,
that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn’t it fill our hands
differently with its return:
heavier by the weight
of where it has been.
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
Ah, could I lay me down in this long grass
And close my eyes, and let the quiet wind
Blow over me—I am so tired, so tired
Of passing pleasant places! All my life,
Following Care along the dusty road,
Have I looked back at loveliness and sighed;
Yet at my hand an unrelenting hand
Tugged ever, and I passed. All my life long
Over my shoulder have I looked at peace;
And now I fain would lie in this long grass
And close my eyes.
Cat birds call
Through the long afternoon, and creeks at dusk
Are guttural. Whip-poor-wills wake and cry,
Drawing the twilight close about their throats.
Only my heart makes answer. Eager vines
Go up the rocks and wait; flushed apple-trees
Pause in their dance and break the ring for me,
And bayberry, that through sweet bevies thread
Of round-faced roses, pink and petulant,
Look back and beckon ere they disappear.
Only my heart, only my heart responds.
Yet, ah, my path is sweet on either side
All through the dragging day,—sharp underfoot
And hot, and like dead mist the dry dust hangs—
But far, oh, far as passionate eye can reach,
And long, ah, long as rapturous eye can cling,
The world is mine: blue hill, still silver lake,
Broad field, bright flower, and the long white road
A gateless garden, and an open path:
My feet to follow, and my heart to hold.
How we get wrinkles
I want to ask about your day
before your day begins
not “How was it?”
“How will it be?
What will you do?
What will you want or need?
How can I help?”
I want your day to unfold
like origami in reverse
loosing its shape
and flattening back
into beautiful possibilities
you will be what you become
in the meantime
your life will bend and fold
as you see fit
each choice is a part of the becoming
all of us
we create ourselves over and over
until we become
what we are
and that ends up becoming
who we are
I want to ask about your day
I want to know who you will be
I want to ask before your day begins
so that you will know
I already revere who you are.