Wednesday, July 2, 2008

'otherwise'

The date on the faded receipt reads Sunday, Jun 16, 2002. Six years ago. (Edited to correct the math!) Six years ago that I started a ritual of buying a book at Drury Lane Books each time Steve and I visited Grand Marais. Six years ago that I bought the book of poems I pulled off the shelf again last night to revisit. I remember standing in the front room of the little bookstore and picking up this book. I remember how it hooked me from the moment I started reading the back cover. I remember how I cried as I read the title poem to Steve. Last night, we read it again, and we both wept. Here it is:

Otherwise
By Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.


Jane Kenyon was married to the poet Donald Hall. She died of leukemia in 1995 while compiling this collection of poems.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Em, that poem choked me up. I'm not trying to sound cheezy, but I really sometimes wish this were happening to me, because you have so much to live for. Not that I don't, but, well, your boys. Your loving husband. Damnit it's unfair!

- Susanne

Cibele said...

SO pretty, thanks for sharing

Coach Megan Thomas said...

Beautiful.

-Megan

Meg said...

amen

Anonymous said...

I think I've read that one somewhere, too, and I remember it catching me off guards just like this time. Thanks for posting it. Isn't poetry wonderful?

Every day could be "otherwise."
You should go up to GM and see what other book strikes you this summer from the store. Something appropriate for 2016, perhaps.

-- Laura S.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

You have me crying too. It's a gorgeous poem.

amy said...

I've always loved that poem... Thanks for reminding me of it. I'll have to go back on a Jane Kenyon binge.

mo*reezy said...

gorgeous. what a sweet reminder to enjoy what we have and not wish for greener pastures all the time.

kristine said...

it's like it was for you..

PJ said...

Sigh...

Lovely sentiment.