Friday, July 26, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

By Jane Shlensky

Some days my memories with you fog,
and I cannot imagine your voice
or mine, as we were when you were
most yourself.  Still, my hands are yours,
worn and busy, stained with foliage,
and my hair, white long before its time,
traces a gene back to your mother.

I carry you in me, as I concentrate
on opening earth to seedlings,
trying to sense seasons’ change,
smelling soil and new buds,
spring rains and twilight,
checking old growth bark for new life—
all learned from you.

I gather words together, arranging them
like posies, pruning and shaping
just as you taught me,
a poem helping us share a moment
of observance, a recognition
of overlooked wonders in need
of second chances: the first crocus,

a jay’s feather, a gnarled twig like a cross,
a stone laced with red veins pulsing
the heart of the earth,
a dead hummingbird
curled like a small fist,
lying still and iridescent
among wild flowers.

I know when you became uprooted
from yourself, you longed for death,
but I could not wish you gone,
even knowing all I’d learned
of pain and loss, that death is not
the worst thing, still I could not imagine
a world depleted of you.

I cannot now say “never” in a line
that has you in it.  You are ever.
As long as I can remember,
I will feel you living in me
and take every spring’s resurrection
as a chance to hold you again.

(First published in Beyond the Dark Room: An International Collection of Transformative Poetry)

Jane is another of the many wonderful poets I've come across online. In fact, we are both in Beyond the Dark Room. I'm sure she's as proud as I am to be included in that project, the brain child of its editor, Dr Pearl Ketover Prilik.

Another collection Jane can be proud of is her own chapbook, Old Mules and Plowed Ground: A Poetic Memoir, recently featured at the site Poetic Bloomings. Her poem above is now part of that memoir. 

I could tell you that, as the title suggests, this chapbook consists of very earthy poetry, real and satisfying. I could mention its range and variety. But best you go and have a read yourself.

The beautiful memorial above is my favourite of them all — but it was hard to choose! This piece is also quoted in an interview with Jane at Poetic Bloomings. (And incidentally, if you're not yet familiar with that excellent site for poets, perhaps you should take a good look around it.)

If you Google 'Jane Shlensky poems', you'll find more of her work, all well worth reading. For instance she is a consistent contributor to Poetic Asides; frequently short-listed and several times a winner of the poetry awards offered there. She's very good at prose poems, too.

I look forward to more from this exciting poet.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Jane!! So nice to see you featured here and so expertly, thank you Rosemary for your expertise and Jane for sharing of yourself!

    "very earthy poetry, real and satisfying"

    Yes! That statement sure rings true!


  2. What a wonderful choice, Rosemary. I love poems like this, full of remembrance, reverie and poignancy. And gardening! Love it!

  3. wow delightful work thanks Rosemary

  4. I am still thrilled at being part of the anthology Beyond the Dark Room. Thank you for the gracious mention in a piece about a truly brilliant poet - Jane Schlensky. I just know that there is a Ploughshare Award or some such in her future. As far as this particular poem "Chances," I can never, including at this moment, read this poem without being brought to tears. it is truly wonderful; a sparkling gem in a jeweled body of work. Terrific choice Rosemary <3

  5. What a wonderful poem choice this week! I will definitely have to read more of Jane Shelsky's poetry.

  6. Thanks to you all for the encouraging comments. And thanks to Rosemary for the recognition. I'm appropriately humbled.

  7. a wonderful share. This is a beautiful poem. I look forward to reading more! Thank you.


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