An Open Letter to Jane Kenyon
It is possible to pick a flower and
not trip over the husk,
to squat in pure rejoicing
without looking forward
to the demise of the coffee cup
or the shards of your lover, broken on the floor.
Eat a sandwich.
Walk your dog.
Live your life.
The seeds (sealed in a pocket
squashed in a small pot
with spongy, thirsty dirt
and simple instructions for planting,
a gesture, an idea of green)
surprise themselves and sprout.
I wrote both of those poems last year, during a shifting and fruitful time of my life. The first, "An Open Letter to Jane Kenyon," was written as I was reading Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems. I remember very clearly being overtaken by both the beauty of her imagery and the depth of her depression. Jane Kenyon did suffer from depression, and to be clear, I do not mean to make light of that. Dealing with depression myself, I know that it does not allow the luxury of a choice of perspective. Thus, the poem has always felt awkward to me in that "What do you mean, writing to a depressed poet, telling her to stop being depressed? That's really insensitive!" kind of way...and still, something was there that I knew had truth.