Lifesaving Poems: Rose Cook’s ‘A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life’

Notes-From-A-Bright-Field-book-cover

Rose Cook’s marvellous ‘Poem for someone who is juggling her life’ came into my life a year or two ago through the marvellous aegis of Helena Nelson at HappenStance Press. As a subscriber to the press I receive one of their poem-cards each quarter. This is how ‘Poem for someone who is juggling her life’ came to be on my doormat.

To say I loved it immediately would be an understatement. It spoke into into that place which exists, Frost says, ‘before words were, living in the cave of the mouth’. It sent me back to myself and to silence, creating an unlooked for moment of repose in an otherwise hectic day.

It does this, I think, through its marvellous handling of tone. It manages to give instruction (‘Be still sometimes’), and to repeat this, without for a second sounding didactic. It is as though the speaker addresses the reader like a patient senior family member, dropping their hands to the listener’s shoulder and leaning in with advice, before turning away to utter the second stanza like an aside to an invisible audience. This contains the world-weary but loving tone of one who has seen it all before, yet who has managed not to let cynicism enter her heart.

The poem’s last instruction, ‘let it all fall sometimes’, is a coming to and a blowing open, rather than a closing down. It urges the practising of acceptance, and as such brings to mind the aphoristic wisdom of religious poetry. It looks like the end of the argument, a poem which wants to have the final word. I think it is much more than that. It places the reader back in the centre of what happens, of what we know will happen and must happen, for ‘progress’ to occur.

A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life

This is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over,
as someone who is juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.

Rose Cook, from Notes From a Bright Field (Cultured Llama, 2013)

Lifesaving Poems

10 comments

  1. Pingback: SOURDOUGH HOT CROSS BUNS w/ Roasted Pumpkin - Homegrown Kitchen

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