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Friday, October 14, 2016

Poetry Friday--'Tis the Season

It's pumpkin time!

Nancy Willard, whom many of you are inclined to think of as a children's writer (won a 1982 Newbury Medal for A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers [J 811 WIL]), is also a prolific writer of adult poetry. In Swimming Lessons: New and Selected Poems [811 WIL] you will find this playfully strange poem for the season:
Saint Pumpkin

Somebody's in there.
Somebody's sealed himself up
in this round room,
this hassock upholstered in rind,
this padded cell.
He believes if nothing unbinds him
he'll live forever.

Like our first room
it is dark and crowded.
Hunger knowns no tongue
to tell it.
Water is glad there.
In this room with two navels
somebody wants to be born again.

So I unlock the pumpkin.
I carve out the lid
from which the stem raises
a dry handle on a damp world.
Lifting, I pull away
wet webs, vines on which hand
the flat tears of the pumpkin,

like fingernails or the currency
of bats. How the seeds shine,
as if water had put out
hundreds of lanterns.
Hundreds of eyes in the windless wood
gaze peacefully past me,
hacking the thickets,

and now a white dew beads the blade.
Has the saint surrendered
himself to his beard?
Has his beard taken root in his cell?

Saint Pumpkin, pray for me,
because when I looked for you, I found nothing,
because unsealed and unkempt, your tomb rots,
because I gave you a false face
and a light of my own making.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place down in Alabama at Irene's Live Your Poem.

Photo by starsandspirals.


  1. How very interesting, Diane. Here is another fine example of word choice. I can see that this is an uncommon pumpkin poem to be savored by adults. Thank you.

  2. Wow, a new look, those "flat tears of pumpkins", and more. I have the William Blake book, wonder if it would be chosen today.

  3. What a strange poem - perfect for the spooky season! ;)

  4. I am loving this poem, Diane - it is full of surprises! The wet webs and currency of bats... lots to chew on! Thank you.

  5. Looking at ordinary things with original eyes is why I love poetry. Am excited to check out more of her poems.

  6. I felt the knife keenly after that opening. Surely you mean hang not hand here: "vines on which hand/ the flat tears of the pumpkin." I loved reading that.

  7. Loved the line Brenda cited as well--creepily beautiful! Such a fascinating poem -- the more I read it, the more I discover and ponder. Thanks for sharing!