To mark National Poetry Month, I will be penning and posting a poem a day to celebrate a poet I love. I admire regimens. I also admire forgiveness when I fail at them. Let’s be a team and give both a try!
One of my deepest high school crushes was Walt Whitman. He was my introduction to the kind of poetry that could take the top of my head off (borrowing here from Plath’s all-to-precise phrasing). Leaves of Grass changed the way I think about writing and life. It unshackled me.
And so we begin with him, one of my very first loves.
For Walt Whitman
Like a boy putting lemon juice between the lines,
you invisible inked me love letters
while I waited in the sleeping nothing
to be born.
You worked on me with whispers—
wake up, wake up, wake up—
turning into yawps,
pulling me out from beneath years of covers
onto Boston rooftops.
“All the good ones are dead!” I said,
wishing I’d been born Jesus,
you, my napping Lazarus.
Agrarian burial clothes might house
your hollow body,
empty even of that Massachusetts air.
I’d bring you back without question.
“Arise, Walt Whitman!
Read Walt Whitman’s work at Poets.org.