“For my son.
We migrate to the front stoop, still in night clothes to stretch and greet an end of summer sun that peaks over the mountains between tall trees and across rooftops. To kiss his face, to bathe my eyelids, all the leaves, our flowers, and almost every blade of grass leans and reaches with us towards the warmth.
He listens for morning sounds, passing cars and buses, cicadas, birds already hard at work.
At sunset, we turned down all the lights, put on soft music, move much slowly. Whisper. Reopened the blinds and let sleep crawl in.
He closes his eyes, wrapped in the comfort of darkness, learning that life is what happens in between sunrise and sunset.
In the early morning, when his tiny hands clutch their first leaf. It is brown, like us. We both smile up at the tree and the invisible wind that's in it.
As I hold him tight, I wonder what he knows about seasons, about his arrival, how he gave my father permission to leave.
Thank you. (audience applause)”
Frank X. Walker reading his poem “Ritual” from a 2019 video posted online by the The Berry Center.
Walker is a professor and poet, the former poet laureate of Kentucky, as well as the co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets – a group that’s at the center of some upcoming IU Themester events in Bloomington.
The purpose of IU’s Themester is to engage the community in collective learning about a timely topic, and this year’s “theme” is “Identity and Identification,” As part of it, the Affrilachian Poets bring us of a three-part public program that includes a film screening, a poetry reading, and a panel discussion, as well as a creative writing masterclass conducted by Frank X. Walker.
The organizer for these events, Lisa Kwong, who’s a new member of the Affrilachian Poets, was in the studio recently, recording some of her own work for the Poets Weave. While here, she told me more about the group:
For WFIU Arts. I’m LuAnn Johnson.