Friday, May 8, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

Elizabeth Carothers Herron
photo by Jack Travis

 by - Elizabeth Carothers Herron
                Kathmandu April 2015

The clear round vase on the table
filled with water holds the world
upside down and magnified, reflecting
the chair-back, the shimmering birch
beyond the window. Deeper
into the woods, shadows
shield the mystery of what sleeps there
having roamed the night as we
turned toward and away and toward
and dreamed our separate dreams,
while the Kathmandu restaurant
whose narrow stone steps I climbed
tumbled into a world turned 
upside down in a street no longer recognizable, 
turned out of itself the way mayhem 
casts out meaning –
this pot where the cook melted ghee
beside the splintered back
of a patron’s chair, this blue scarf 
fluttering from the rubble as prayer flags 
fluttered above the entrance. The stairs
speak to each other, mystified
by their new arrangement – the first step
grating against the eighth, the ninth
under the fourth, the third beside the fifth.
If this were music, their confusion might
convey the longing for harmony 
lost inside the dissonance of chaos,
the moans and cries of the mortal world
with its icy rivers turned to salt.
Isn't this the most amazing poem, at this particular moment? I know we are all stunned by the hugeness of the earthquake in Nepal, so much so it is hard to find the words. But this poet did so to perfection. I sent it on to Rosemary who responded with the same "Wow!" I uttered upon reading it, and she suggested I present it here in I Wish I'd Written This, which I am very happy to do.

It turns out Elizabeth Carothers Herron is my kind of poet. At her website, she is described as "an author and educator, writing poetry and articles on art and ecology, the importance of natural systems and biodiversity in the physical and spiritual well-being of individuals, communities and the planet. Much of her work reflects these concerns."  Well, now, those are concerns that speak to me, and to most of us, I imagine.

Elizabeth has several books out, which I shall definitely be investigating. They are listed on her site, and include such inviting titles as Desire Being Full of Distance, Language for The Wild, and The Stones The Dark Earth. Her essays about human relationships to the natural world appear in many literary magazines, and she has other published books as well.

Elizabeth lives in Northern California, and teaches poetry, essays and fiction writing at Sonoma State University, where she is Faculty Emeritus. 

I am so happy to have stumbled upon her timely poem and thus to find another wonderful writer's work to explore. I hope you enjoy! Do come back next Friday, when Rosemary has another wonderful poet in mind for us.

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


  1. Thanks for finding and sharing this one, Sherry. I spent some time in Nepal in 1998, mostly in Kathmandu, which I decided was one of my favourite cities. So I can relate very much to what is said here. I'm glad it has been said, and said so well.

  2. This definitely is quite a poem share, Sherry! Indeed there is so much reason for 'tears.'

  3. "the longing for harmony / lost inside the dissonance of chaos,"...the lines perfectly hold Nepal at present...a very timely selection Sherry...

  4. Yes, it struck me deeply when I read it....I could feel her having walked upon the stairs in past years, that are now upended Such a sad disaster. On the news, they are trying to save what cultural artifacts they can dig from the rubble, an incalculable loss of buildings and artifacts, aside from the human cost in lives and being displaced. A terrible event.

  5. It's wonderful finding! Love steps talk, sensation of music here and frustration of surrounded chaos....Thanks!

  6. Its so touching.. an amazing poem! :D


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