Between Stars

Feb 3, 2017

Today’s poem is by Martin Steingesser.

Martin is the author of three books of poems, most recently Yellow Horses, and he has been speaking and performing his poems and teaching poetry workshops for children and adults throughout Maine and Vermont since the early 1980s.  

His poem  “Between Stars” grew out of one of his earliest childhood memories when he had wandered off into the woods.  “Only recently,” he writes, “did it hit me that that experience had created a pre-disposition for poetry…like a seed planted in me that far back…”

Between Stars

When they sent me away for the summer
at four, the journey itself felt like a year. 
Mornings it was make the bed, swab the toilet bowl, 
sweep floors. After, we assembled in ragged lines, 
each a team with an animal name, like cubs 
or tadpoles. A counselor wearing a whistle on a cord 
called out activities: softball, swim… 
He’d blow the whistle, and everyone ran to one. 
I would turn, walk off into some nearby woods, 
lose myself all morning. It’s a wonder 
no one missed me. At least, no one came looking. 
Don’t ask what I did. What I remember is the glow—
every moment, leaf and grass blade, every stone, 
sunlight scattered among them, patches 
of white fire. My heart hummed, more home 
lost in woods than I have ever felt— 
unless you count the territories of poems 
I’m called to write, in which I lose myself, 
not unlike the way I wandered those woods. 
I might as easily been walking among galaxies, 
green distances between leaves endless as stars. 
My own certain way—maybe where poetry began 
for me, before thinking, before knowing, speechless 
in the green world where I wanted to stay

Poem copyright © 2013 Martin Steingesser.
Reprinted from Words & Images, 2013, by permission of Martin Steingesser.