Literature 9-3-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Linda Back McKay

This week's poem, "The Times Were Not Much Different When" by Linda Back McKay was selected by poet Carol Muske-Dukes.



I was more of what I am, with all the sorrow.
I was what I saw in the pond and the pond

was gravely literal. It insinuated itself into my
dream. I dreamed of my grandson

as the night slid away and the sky
lightened and memory faded with the stars.

Here is some of what I was and with the sorrow
as he learns his colors and letters. Soon

he will examine cells under a microscope
and familiarize himself with a motherboard.

He may have what I never had. Scaffolding,
infrastructure, blueprints to navigate

a mountain range. He already knows
he will really be something. I know

shades of orange and gold and the star
above him. Now and then someone persuades

the sun, like an old-fashioned parasol,
to close and fold itself behind a muff of clouds.

The times were not much different when
I decided to turn here instead of going there.

When his turn comes, he will pop the top
and let loose the fireflies.


Poetry is a wild pony refusing to be tamed. Poetry is a generous mountain grandfather, an evocative smell, the sight of an eagle, the taste of earth. I write to make sense of things. I write the way I ride motorcycle — into the fear and through to the other side.


Linda Back McKay is a poet, author and teaching artist. Her latest poetry collection, The Cockeyed Precision of Time, along with her other books and information, can be found on her website.