Started December browsing through a book — “A Poem a Day,” a collection of poetry put together by Laurie Sheck. Much better choice than a newspaper. I stumble on some choice poems and then notice that some of the poets have dates like this:
• Wislawa Szymborska (1923- )
• Maxine Kumin (1925- )
• Robert Creeley (1926 - )
• Galway Kinnell (1927- )
• Phillip Levine (1928 - )
• Mark Strand (1934 - )
• Mary Oliver (1935 - )
All those beautiful blank spaces on the other side of the hyphen. The comfort of knowing that the day may bring to light another poem from one of these people sent to earth to notice, to praise, to share the pain, wonder and beauty through the human gift of language.
But this anthology was published in 2003 and now, each of the above has filled in the blank with a year that says: “No new words will be thrown into the pond of public discourse from this person, just the rings they made with their splash that still reach the shore of someone in need of reading them.” We were blessed to have them with us, most of them sticking around into their 80’s and 90’s and some still with us — David Wagoner (1926 - ), Gary Snyder: (1930 - ), Mark Strand (1934 - ).
And you reading this and me reading this have the great good fortune of that blank space after the hypen, the one that invites us to fill it with the full measure of our life energy before a number steps in. The month has turned, the world still spins, the days grow short and love still blossoms in impossible places. Let us be worthy of that empty space.