The Difference between a Child and a Poem
If you are terrified of your own death, and want to escape from it, you may want to write a poem, for the poem might carry your name into eternity, the poem may become immortal, beyond flesh and fashion, it may be read in a thousand years by someone as frightened of death as you are, in a dark field, at night, when he has failed once again at love and there is no illusion with which to escape the inward pull of his own flesh against the narrowing margins of the spirit. But if you have accepted your own death, if you have pinched daily the corroborating flesh, and have passed the infinite gravestones bearing your name, if you know for certain that the day will one day come when you will gaze into the mirror in search of your face and find only a silence, then you may want to make a child, you may want to push the small oracles of flesh forward into some merely finite but lengthening story, you may want to toss your seed into the wind like a marigold, or a passion fruit, and watch as a fresh flower grows in your place, as your face inches onto another face, and your eyes slip down over your cheeks onto the forehead of your silenced, speakable future. And, then, when you are done with all that, you may want to write a poem.
From The Wages of Goodness, published by University of Missouri Press. Copyright © 1992 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.
Born in 1949, Michael Blumenthal is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012 (Etruscan Press, 2012), And (BOA Editions, 2009), and Dusty Angel (BOA Editions, 1999), winner of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Prize.
Date Published: 1992-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/difference-between-child-and-poem