So many of us have spent the last several months cut off from one another, from connection in the ways we’ve always known. Sometimes, I felt impossibly far from the people I loved. In other moments, I'd spend an afternoon on the phone and it seemed as though no time had passed since we’d been there - anywhere - together. But despite how it made me feel, it helped me notice something else about connection: there is going to be space between you and anyone else, regardless of how well you know or love them. And that space is nothing new - it's always been there.
I think that's because we are all, to some degree, strangers. No matter how deeply you know someone, you can never know them completely. In many ways that feels comforting. Perhaps there is no “perfect relationship,” no “soul mate,” no “best friend forever." There is only connection, and a silent acknowledgement: I will never know everything about you. Sustained connection finds itself in the pursuit of that knowledge: I will never know everything, but I will never stop asking questions and trying to learn.
That space is nothing to be afraid of, and not something to try and wipe away completely. We are strangers to each other. We are connected. There is strength in both of these things.
This week, poems about connection across time and place.
by Tracy K. Smith
I think of your hands all those years ago
Learning to maneuver a pencil, or struggling
To fasten a coat. The hands you’d sit on in class,
The nails you chewed absently. The clumsy authority
With which they’d sail to the air when they knew
You knew the answer. I think of them lying empty
At night, of the fingers wrangling something
From your nose, or buried in the cave of your ear.
All the things they did cautiously, pointedly,
Obedient to the suddenest whim. Their shames.
How they failed. What they won’t forget year after year.
Or now. Resting on the wheel or the edge of your knee.
I am trying to decide what they feel when they wake up
And discover my body is near. Before touch.
Pushing off the ledge of the easy quiet dancing between us.
Kentucky River Junction
by Wendell Berry
to Ken Kesey & Ken Babbs
Clumsy at first, fitting together
the years we have been apart,
and the ways.
But as the night
passed and the day came, the first
fine morning of April,
it came clear:
the world that has tried us
and showed us its joy
was our bond
when we said nothing.
And we allowed it to be
with us, the new green
Our lives, half gone,
stay full of laughter.
have the world for words.
Though we have been
apart, we have been together.
Trying to sleep, I cannot
take my mind away.
The bright day
shines in my head
like a coin
on the bed of a stream.
by Roque Dalton
translated by Jack Hirschman
Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky-blue
landscape of January days.
And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.
And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.
Yo, como tú,
amo el amor, la vida, el dulce encanto
de las cosas, el paisaje
celeste de los días de enero.
También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan, de todos.
Y que mis venas no terminan en mí
sino en la sangre unánime
de los que luchan por la vida,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.
Are you looking for poems that fit a specific topic or feeling? Reply to this email with whatever that topic area is, and I'll cover your topic (and suggest some poems that fit it!) in an upcoming edition of Sunday Poems.