Poetry Friday: Dorianne Laux

On August 1st, as many of you dove headfirst into The Sealey Challenge, reading a book of poetry a day, I drove to my son’s house to spend the week with my granddaughter. (And her parents, too, of course!) I planned on spending the week reading Goodnight Moon, The Pout Pout Fish, Babybug, and more. And I did. But on Monday afternoon, I realized I could download a book of poetry and read it during Hazel’s nap. It seemed worth a try. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across What We Carry, by Dorianne Laux. But her name was familiar and the title intrigued me, so I clicked “borrow,” and began to read.

Laux’s poetry is filled with odd, precise details, astute observations, painful questions, and brilliant, shimmering metaphors. Reading a book of her poetry a day would be like chugging a glass of water on a blistering hot day: initially sating, but not enough. There is too much to savor. Too much would be missed. So I am not participating in #TheSealeyChallenge this year. Besides, whoever decided this challenge should happen in August was clearly not a teacher. (Kudos to you all who are participating while getting ready to head back to the classroom!) I have been reading more of Dorianne Laux’s poetry, studying and learning from her craft. Here is one of my favorites.

Life of Earth
by Dorianne Laux

The odds are we never should have been born.
Not one of us. Not one in 400 trillion to be
exact. Only one among the 250 million
released in a flood of semen that glides
like a glassine limousine filled with tadpoles
of possible people, one of whom may
or may not be you, a being made of water
and blood, a creature with eyeballs and limbs
that end in fists, a you with all your particular
perfumes, the chords of your sinewy legs
singing as they form, your organs humming
and buzzing with new life, moonbeams
lighting up your brain’s gray coils,

Read the rest here

Photo by Hamish Weir on Unsplash

Please be sure to visit Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Dorianne Laux

  1. I’m so glad you dipped into some poetry and shared this beauty of a poem. The language is fabulous and surprising and engaging and all things wonderful. Wow!
    PS I also thought whoever devised The Sealey Challenge couldn’t have been a teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also a new reader of Dorianne Laux. She was recently a guest on a webinar I attended called Poetry of Resilience. James Crews and Danusha Lameris did six sessions in the spring and will do six more in the fall. Each session had a guest poet and wonderful poems were shared and discussed. I think you would enjoy it! Thank you for all the poetry you have introduced me to over the years!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it would be fine to do the Sealey Challenge as a deep dive into one poet and that Dorianne Laux would be a fine choice. All of us possible people, born to “gambler chances, the bounty
    of good luck you were born for.” How wonderful!
    Re: “not a teacher”–I hope to keep school in a tighter box this year and keep reading poetry right up to the 31st and beyond, planning my work so that it fits in the hours I get paid for. One of the lessons of the pandemic is that teachers have to guard their work-life balance jealously, or the world will keep on taking advantage of our care and generosity. (Sorry for the speechifying!)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I take the Atlantic so remember some of this perfect poem to share & celebrate while Hazel naps. When one reads it, then looks (or imagines) the babies, like Hazel, like we were, it is quite a miracle that we were born, isn’t it? I love the ending, too that begins with “When you think you might be
    through. . . Thanks, Catherine, so glad you had your special Hazel week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a perfect poem while you’re visiting Hazel, one of the newest miracles on earth!

    This Sealey challenge HAS been like chugging glasses of ice water every day, but I’m glad that I am widening my circle of known poets. And I’ve got the other 11 months to go back and read more slowly and carefully, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am sure you are enjoying your time with Hazel and still snuggling with a book. Ah, Grandma visits are the best. Thanks for the poem that is very interesting. Love the lines:
    the exquisite hills of your face, the human
    toy your mother longs for, your father
    yearns to hold, the unmistakable you
    who will take your first breath…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Catherine,
    Your introduction is sweet. I can imagine you reading poetry by day with your little sweet one, and then reading Laux while the baby sleeps.
    Thank you for sharing this poem. She is a new poet for me. I have definitely added her name to my book. The poem you shared is so beautiful; I’ve sent it to my family. I love the meandering she does with forsythia, and then tied it back to the poem at hand with these lines:
    “And those
    are only a few of the things
    you will one day know,”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an incredible poem! I’ve just read and re-read, ‘The Stuff of Stars’ by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Eukka Holmes. This poem is the grown up version of that. The odds of us…the odds of being make me feel so fortunate right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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