To Anna

August 10, 2016

For Anna Mark

My poems feel overdressed
when I read your poetry. [i]
I love their nakedness—
or, as modesty would have it,
I love the bathing suits they wear—
worn fully without clinging.

Yes, my clothing does cling—
like everything else—
too much these days.
Of course, one’s clinging to life
is the source and model of all clinging—
and to the life of your children,
the others , whose very otherness
can make it more precious and still—

How this poem clings to its loved ones,
holds then tight, then forgives them
enough to let them swim out
a little further and still further…
It could be a model for the world.
I wish I could swim with them too,
even when your feet touch other shores.

[i] I am talking about Anna Mark’s poem The Lake, which you need a password to access. I will reprint it here with Anna’s permission.

The Lake

. She wears the deep water —
….. the clear dress soaks
……her shoulder length hair.


If only my words, if only my love,
were that sweet water,
that ancient lake you jump into wholly,
playful and free,

living water to your sense of joy, innocence and trust,
darkness beyond the depths of our sight,
beyond reach yet willing to be known,
worn fully without clinging,
rapture without entering too deeply, too soon,
as explored mystery captivating awe —
fear and wonder;

a mother’s caress reflecting light,
eroding the places that harden,
where you’d thrive with me,
your strong root in me for when you shed me,
when your feet touch shores,
when you leave,
when it’s time for you to go,
when you emerge —





.for my daughters





2 Responses to “To Anna”

  1. Thomas Davis Says:

    The clarity in this poem is startling, Jim. It is a brilliant poem. Anna Mark is one of the best poets writing on wordpress, and this is a huge compliment, but your poem is as refreshing in its conversational response as a clear lake of water in the high mountain on a day that is almost crystal from sunshine. Both you and Anna need to be deeply congratulated.

  2. John Looker Says:

    Jim, both this poem of yours and the original from Anna Mark give me great pleasure and are a perfect conversation. In your response there is the same celebration of love, eg for a child, and then the development of thought about our very human love of life itself. The poem is a wonderful staring pony for reflection by the reader without restricting the reader’s mind (well, you would never do that, would you?).

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