Literature 9-15-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Greg Watson

This week's What Light poem, "Windows Left Open in November," is by veteran winner Greg Watson, and was selected by poet Patricia Kirkpatrick.


Windows Left Open in November

1. In the pre-winter darkness of these silent rooms
I am startled awake by the sputtering
of the radiator, which I drowsily mistake
for your breathing beside me,
a sound that has long since moved elsewhere
yet stubbornly resides tonight
in this dutiful earth-bound heart.

2.Thankfully, the soul does not break apart
with the force of one false word;
nor is there a blossoming of blood-roses
on the tongue that speaks only truth.
Tonight I taste the ashes of two worlds,
my silence a thin black branch, tooth-sharp
and motionless against the dark, reflecting glass.


So often I am surprised by those poems which seem to have had the most effect on readers. A poem I may feel strongly about, a “success” in my eyes, may leave another feeling cool, uninspired, or ambivalent. Likewise, a piece I may view as a virtual throwaway, shared with a friend or acquaintance on a whim, can have a great emotional impact on that person. So a good reader is essential. A good reader is also a teacher, opening doors to psyche and spirit, just as the poet has attempted to do through his or her work. Certainly I have discovered layers in my own work through the eyes of others. In this way — the stream of language and ideas flowing both ways — poetry continues to inspire and surprise both writer and reader.


Greg Watson‘s work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Seattle Review, Sulphur River Literary Review, and Poetry East. His most recent poetry collections are Pale Light from a Distant Room and Things You Will Never See Again, both published by March Street Press. His latest, The Distance Between Two Hands, was published in early 2008. He lives in Saint Paul.