I’ve been thinking a lot about endings in stories and poems. As a writer, I often get stuck just before the ending because it has to be just right. You can have a not-so-great beginning and win over a reader by the end; but if you wow the reader at the start and then write a disappointing ending, the reader’s experience is ruined. They feel gypped! They wasted their time!
For me, poems should end with what I call “a lift.” This is not in any poetry textbook—it’s my own term for it. I want poems to take a slight turn at the end, to surprise me, even in a small and subtle way, to not end where I expect them to.
This poem does that in its quiet way.
This gem is by my sister, Romy Lanier Cawood. Anyone who has read my early blogs (or who knows me) is familiar with the story of how, when Romy and I were little, our father (a writer) gave us blank “books” to write in made out of little pieces of paper stapled together. Thus, we became “authors” at a very early age—authors of stick figures and misspelled sentences, at first, but we both grew up writing stories and poems.
Here is her poem:
I send this prayer to you, Mighty Heaven,
to you and all your angels, leaning in sorrow over this Earth.
This Earth, for which I dare to speak, small that I am, and
to tell you that in spite of the
opal rain you cast upon us
and the innocence you plant in our souls,
Mighty Heaven, I do not know what other stardust you
Without bitterness, but with great hope, I ask
for your mercy,
and mercy again.
Without bitterness, without care for the upset of some
reasoned justice, perfect and calm,
I ask for your mercy, more perhaps than
you had foreseen to bestow, as the
thunder of your music arrives a faint
echo in our dream.
Mighty Heaven, my voice is small, and I dare to speak
for this Earth
to ask you
to lean farther
to hear it.
Copyright © 2019, Romy Lanier Cawood, printed here with permission
Thank you, Romy, for allowing me to share this beauty as the last and fifth poem for my National Poetry Month celebration. You can learn more about Romy here. A big thank you to Robert McCready for partnering with me again this year. You can listen to Robert recite Romy’s poem here.
And thank you to all my readers, especially those who do not love poetry, for riding on this journey with me. My hope is that you found something you loved along the way.
In May, I’ll return to your regularly scheduled program. . .
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Photo of the sky by Wil Stewart from Unsplash.com.