What Might We Understand

What if we rose with the sun and sang each morning,
Sticking our heads through windows or chasing after

Creeks in our nightclothes? What if we rummaged
For our breakfasts under layers of decay? What if

We turned our faces to the sun? What if we ate
Sunlight and drank rainwater? What if our bodies grew

Down into the earth, clutching the soil in our twining toes,
Binding us to one place? What if we lived centuries,

Each year stretching the miles of lives
Underneath our canopy? What if we lived silently?

What if we bloomed pink and purple, yellow or orange
When we got what we needed? What if we

Passed winter curled underground with our families
And our stores of fat and food? What if we scurried

Through life on an endless quest for berries,
Mushrooms, and grubs? What if we were the grubs?

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Last Friday Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town shared Mary Oliver’s poem How Would You Live Then? I was so taken by the form of the poem with its repeating “what if” questions I wanted to give it a try. As you can see my questions took me in a different direction.

For more Poetry Friday, go to A Teaching Life.

7 replies
  1. Katya says:

    As someone who has moved every couple of years my whole life, these lines really appealed to me “What if our bodies grew/ Down into the earth, clutching the soil in our twining toes,/ Binding us to one place?”

  2. Irene Latham says:

    Oh, I love this SO MUCH! It’s a great poem for writers too… empathetic, experimental, as we try on other voices and other lives…. thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Robyn Hood Black says:

    Love. Love. Love. This is one of my favorite things I’ve read that you’ve penned, and that says a lot! Great last line. Great all around. Thanks for sharing.

    (The lines that linger for me are the ones Katya noted. She has such good taste. ;0) )

  4. Tara @ A Teaching Life says:

    What if we rose with the sun and sang each morning,
    Sticking our heads through windows or chasing after

    Creeks in our nightclothes?

    Just loved this opening….it transports you to possibilities immediately.

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