The Centrifugal Eye Winter 2016 - Celebration-of-Poets - 10th-Anniversary Issue

Page 54

I don’t tell him about the smell of detergent and the hum of the dryers, or that I was reading a borrowed textbook for a class I wasn’t taking. I don’t tell him how my feet ached from waiting tables as I leaned against the glass and read that poem a second time, and then a third. I don’t tell him how I copied it line by line into my notebook with its purple plastic cover, two pages after my mother’s recipe for blackberry cobbler. I just tell him I remember the first time I read “For a Coming Extinction”, that it made me want to be a poet, to write poems like that. I walk away remembering how, as I lay in the subleased bedroom by the railroad tracks while trains shook past, 54

William Stanley Merwin

When I shake the poet laureate’s hand, I don’t tell him the first time I read his work was on a summer night in the last year of the century, as I sat in the window of a laundromat while warm rain beaded on the pane.

dedicated to

Claire Hermann Reading W. S. Merwin in the Laundromat