Thrilled that this poem was featured 18 April ’18 by National Poetry Writing Month – Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo – GloPoWriMo). The generative prompt for it appeared the preceding day. It was inspired by the word “saplings” in – and the concept and format of — “Directions” in Sailing Around the Room by Billy Collins.
NaPoWriMo’s prompt: “…write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time.”
Carrying the Ashes*
dedicated to Nanci Hamblett Wilson
You know the granite chunks on the beach,
the ones you see from the dinghy,
the ones that wend their way to
And you know how if you follow the path
up the steepest part of the slope
and climb up into the woods you might
have to grab hold of saplings until
you come to the raspberry patches, picked over
by each of us every summer
right under the grove of tall pine, dripping now
with grandfather’s beard?
And farther on, you know how the path
twists to the left and narrows between juniper
and if you go beyond that you arrive
in the clearing with the long stone ridge
bordered by the small field
followed by the big field that tumbles
right back down to the sea
just to the left of the cabin
where there was the singular chair?
That’s a fine place to stop
and catch your breath.
Of course, the journey’s best done with
your hands free. But you know when
you have a load to carry and your hands are so full
you can’t even grasp a sapling?
Just remember that the beginning of the path
is the steepest and, with each step,
the raspberries are getting closer.
And it helps if you have someone
to chat with when you take breaks
and can switch the load from one to the other
up the path to the singular chair.
So, let me know before you set out next time.
I’ll row the dinghy and you can put your hand
on my shoulder as we cross the granite chunks.
Bring a bowl for the raspberry patch
and I’ll bring an old blanket
and we’ll nibble away an afternoon
where there the singular chair once sat
and catch our breath.
By Elizabeth Boquet, April 2018, *This poem was inspired by the word “saplings” in – and the concept and format of — “Directions” in Sailing Around the Room by Billy Collins.