When I was very young, my father traveled to Russia and brought back a set of nesting dolls for me and my sister. I was too young to know what this was, so each discovered doll beneath another was a surprise. Over the years, my sister and I opened and opened them, and you could tell we loved the smallest best because the paint wore off it the soonest. It felt like a little secret tucked away.
Sometimes a good poem is like that for me—each sentence is another layer that goes deeper, and when you get to the end of the poem, you feel like you’ve been let in on something secret and quiet, something that doesn’t get talked about loudly.
I found the poem “With Time” by Brian Satrom on Cider Press Review back in December, and I am so glad I did.
The poem is small but packs a big emotional punch, and it manages in just a few lines to be in the present, go back to the past, and glimpse into the future. Here it is:
I’m the one to hollow the pumpkin and carve a face.
The doorbell rings again. You adore the children
tonight in their costumes. A warm night.
We have no costumes, just the two of us
and the space between forming a shape we keep repeating.
My turn to go and hand out candy. We finally threw away
the photo from the booth that merged our faces,
a composite to show what a daughter of ours
might look like. She looked freaky not being real.
This isn’t yours alone to carry, isn’t your failure.
We won’t let us drift apart, but there’s nothing
to work on or figure out. With time you’ll say
your body doesn’t crave being a mother anymore.
You can’t say it now, your silence
a place into which I don’t know how to follow you.
Every week this month—National Poetry Month—I’ll be offering up a poem to you in hopes that those who already love poetry will discover a new poet, and in hopes that those who don’t normally read poetry find poems that are accessible and that speak to them, too. My dear friend Robert McCready will be reciting each poem, so have a listen to this first one.
Thank you for writing “With Time,” Brian, and for allowing me to share it with others.
And thank you to all of you for kicking off National Poetry Month with me.
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