Friday, September 14, 2007

Poetry will save you

I read the new entry by my friend Kevin today (there's no premalink, so look for the entry called "Driving at Night"). I immediately thought of this poem.

For My Daughter in Reply to a Question
by David Ignatow

We're not going to die.
we'll find a way.
We'll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We'll think always on life.
There'll be no fading for you or for me.
We'll be the first
and we'll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There'll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that some context may be in order.

I first heard this poem recited on NPR's The Writer's Almanac, which is hosted by Garrison Keillor. As I listened to Keillor read, I unexpectedly found myself weeping. I thought about my father, about my mother, about my sister.

Ignatow writes about being "buried under the births and deaths to come." Sometimes it feels like we can be buried beneath those that have already happened.

1 comment:

kc said...

thanks for sharing the poem, I find Ignatow's poem to be wishful yet earnestly brave. When speaking to my children I am always tempted in that direction...favoring beauty over truth but I don't always manage to avoid the skepticism that is ever present in my own heart.