Poem : Topography.

I remember the first time poetry really moved me.

Of course, I already owned the words of Dickinson and Dunn, thinking of them as a vague echo of my experience. But.

Until this moment, I knew nothing of poetry. Not the way it sounded on a tongue or the way it silenced a crowd of college kids, nor the way it opened me and my pages to not just words, but feeling.

It was early spring, my freshman year. Linford Detweiler played a lovely, quiet, sparsely attended piano concert in the chapel, lights dimmed, stage bare. He paused between songs to read poems, tell stories, charm the crowd.

He closed with this poem, Topography by Sharon Olds.

He fingered the piano keys, tossed his music pages to the floor and read the words. And I sat there in silence for minutes afterward, thinking… Oh. That’s what it’s for.

by Sharon Olds

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas, your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ Leigh Kramer

    Beautifully written, Preston. You know I get this. Boy, do I ever.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      I know you know, friend. I know.

  • Holly

    And how very scandalous AND remarkable to think that we sit upon this great sea of the unspoken.
    So often I feel as if you are able to articulate so much of the never yet spoken in my heart. The fact that you are so real and honest and true as you do it, wins me over every time. Rejoicing in the sanctuary that you have amazing things to bring us, Preston.

    • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

      Thank you, Holly. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T.

    Preston, I love this truth, and how you put it: “Perhaps this is danger; perhaps this is faith. I think the line hard to discern at times.” Yes.

    I’m so late reading this post, but I’m sort of glad the timing worked out like it did. I just wrote a post yesterday on “not play it safe”—why we take risks and why we should keep taking them. It isn’t about promises that the limbs we venture out onto will hold, or even that sweet fruit will be found at the end of them. It’s about choosing an adventure, with God at our side, and waking our lives up in the process. I’m so glad you’re willing to embark on those adventures.