Barbara Crooker – Bereft

Barbara Crooker LEP&W V4 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four December 2022.

Bereft, poems by Barbara Crooker.


Thank you. . . / for reminding me that we’re mortal, that all lives change, /
that one lover will say goodbye to the other. “More Soprano, Please, More Tenor,”
David Kirby

I wish it wasn’t true, but it is, that one of us will be left alone. Short straw,
it’s me, trying to go on after this abrupt rupture. Who would pick it,
this life halved, or rather, diminished down to its core? All those clichés,
truer than true: my better half my best friend my sweet love Alone,
I’m less than the self I was before we met. This diminishment. Outside:
the fullness of summer, melons growing plump, corn slowly turning gold,
trees in green ardor, leafy splendor. Inside: winter, season of meager,
the blackened fireplace of my empty heart, not even an ember.

Tá brón orm

Sadness is on me. Irish saying

This is how they say it in Ireland, that you don
sorrow like a cloak or a shawl. But I don’t think
that begins to cover it. Instead, sorrow becomes
a new organ, part of myself, a second skin,
something I can’t remove, hang on a coat
rack, choose something lighter on better days.
It lives, breathes, stretches. Contains
the central nervous system, protects from rain
and sun. But it’s not enough for shelter
or a shield against harm. This sadness
is not only on me; I can never take it off.

Les amoreux en bleu3

Marc Chagall, 1919, oil on paper

Once this was us, young and in love, caught,
not on canvas, but in a snapshot. I want to be
that girl, cast in blue shadow, her lips
on his, sharing that kiss. I want her inky
corkscrews escaping in front of her ear. I want
those gloves, checked like the grill of a store
front. I want to be loved completely like that,
no doubt or obfuscation. Marry me,
this painting seems to be saying. Cover me
in blue shadows, hues of cerulean. Night may
be coming, a dramatic black curtain, but
the rigid edges of the frame will not allow
its intrusion. Instead, the world is blue,
him and her, me and you.

© Barbara Crooker

Barbara Crooker is the author of nine full-length books of poetry, including Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series).  Radiance, her first book, won the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and was finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, her second book, won the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; and The Book of Kells won the Best Poetry Book of 2019 Award from Writing by the Sea.  Her writing has received a number of awards, including the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and The Bedford Introduction to Literature.  She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France, and The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland.  Garrison Keillor has read her poems over sixty times on The Writer’s Almanac, and she has read her poetry all over the country, including The Festival of Faith and Writing,  Poetry at Round top, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival,  Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium, and the Library of Congress.

5 Replies to “Barbara Crooker – Bereft”

  1. Oh Barb! I can feel your pain. Hopefully it will lighten like the fog when the warm sun breaks thru and you will see the love and beauty that surrounds you.

  2. Thank you for the gift of these beautiful and profound words. My husband is diminishing, and before too long, I will have lost a huge chunk of my wellspring. Words like yours will help me carry on. Also, your poem Praise Song is one I’ve read almost every morning for the last few tumultuous years. It has helped me meet each new day with some hope. Thank you so very much for your words.

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