commonplace books (courtesy of National Poetry Month), got me to thinking about the things in my old-fashioned commonplace books -- you know, the ones made of actual paper. Here's one that not only made my commonplace book, but hung for a long time on a couple bulletin boards -- both at work and at home. I just love it.
Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
You can buy Philip Booth's book Lifelines here.