I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.Read All Entries
Let me preface this by assuring you that only parts of this poem written by my husband are true.
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For me, this book of poems grapples with fear. I’ve arranged the poems into three sections: “bear,” “wing,” and “cloud.” The poems in the first section are about encounters: fear of the wilderness, especially bears, fear of women, and fear of relationships. The pomegranate, the myth of Persephone, and the migration of Persephone between her husband in Hades and her mother enter into the book. Up until now, I hadn’t considered the interpretation of Persephone “going home to mother.” Some of the poems in Cloud Birds are about women moving through violence; all of the poems are about moving through fear.
This is not about victimization, but about learning how to walk through violence and fear and get beyond it. My grandmother on my mother’s side survived spousal abuse. I had a brief marriage, at age 20, to a man who, on our honeymoon, kicked me because the suitcase was not packed correctly. I have known so many who have suffered and even lost their lives to this violence. The poem, Not Forgotten, is an image I was able to reach for and help myself keep going and get beyond fear.
I learned to ride
the two wheel bicycle
with my father.
He oiled the chain
clothes-pinned playing cards
to the spokes, put on the basket
to carry my lunch.
By his side, I learned balance
and took on speed
centered behind the wide
handlebars, my hands
on the white grips
my feet pedaling.
One moment he was
holding me up
and the next moment
although I didn’t know it
he had let go.
When I wobbled, suddenly
afraid, he yelled keep going—
Beneath the trees in the driveway
the distance increasing between us
I eventually rode until he was out of sight.
I counted on him.
That he could hold me was a given
that he could release me was a gift.