Sunday, February 23, 2014

Eve Merriam: "Reply to the Question: `How Can You Become a Poet?'"

take the leaf of a tree
trace its exact shape
the outside edges
and inner lines

memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
(and how the twig arches from the branch)
how it springs forth in April
how it is panoplied in July

by late August
crumple it in your hand
so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness

chew its woody stem

listen to its autumn rattle

watch it as it atomizes in the November air

then in winter
when there is no leaf left

                 invent one

"Reply to the Question: `How Can You Become a Poet?'" by Eve Merriam, from Rainbow Writing. © Atheneum, 1976.

Image credit: "Bougainvillea Leaf in Yellow," "developed [from a photograph] using photo editing software," by (originally color).


  1. How a Poem Came to Be

    An inauspicious lump of gravel
    tossed in the tumbler,
    turned, turned,
    until gleaming smooth,
    handsome moss agate
    admired and mounted
    on a new bolo tie slide.

    A thing of pride and beauty.

    But how much more did it yearn
    to be a geode
    struck once just so,
    split to reveal
    the perfect,
    dazzling crystal.

    --Patrick Murfin

    1. What a lovely reply! Please consider sharing it as a comment on the poem on our Facebook page.


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