I found a small dusty container in the back of the spare bedroom closet. Turns out that it was full of mementos from the dawn of my adulthood. Old foreign coins, letters from friends, pictures from past adventures.
Inside this box was a copy of a poem by Susan Ludvigson, whose poetry I fell in love with my freshman year at Coker. I remember the first time I picked her book up in the campus bookstore and I bought it before I even knew I had to. I forgot about this poem, titled What If.
This poem has been through a lot. There are quite a few thumbtack holes, the paper is yellowed, the left edge is softer where I used to grab it off the wall, working the edge with my fingernails as I read it. I can tell that at some point in my life it meant a lot to me. I have a vague recollection of it being posted on the wall beside my desk in college.
After reading it again – all these years later – I realize why I liked it so much. I feel sad that I forgot about it for so long. So I am sharing it with you.
By : Susan Ludvigson
….when you entered your mind
with purpose, you found not the field
you’d told yourself to imagine, the wild
strawberries of childhood strewn
among the tall grass where you lay
under apple trees, but a land flatter
and wider than sight can take in.
What if you forgot how to bring inside
the music that used to begin
in your gradual wakings, and in the space
before sleep, when the rain began softly,
and all your sweet longings loosened.
What if traffic and telephones
continued their commerce, so loud
you couldn’t remember how your skin felt,
floating. There is this fear
stalking the hours. One day
it might disappear, that place
you could go at will, where your own
voice hummed like a mother,
a crooning that let your blood
slow, the poem of the body
riding the blue murmuring crests, naming
its love, loving its life.