Dear Prageeta Sharma,
“Please write your friends poems and write them into poems.”
Do you remember urging us to do that in your your Poetry Foundation blog post, “Dear Reader, There’s a Still Suburb of Friendship, Community, and Poetry & Praise?”
I’m sorry I don’t know you well enough to call you friend, and I wish I could write poems more quickly than I write prose. But I want to tell you that I sat with you yesterday as you spoke about “Reverberant Silence” to the writers gathered at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Los Angeles.
I imagine that we who heard you speak about the loss of your husband, we who heard you read from the blog post you wrote about that grief, we who listened as read your poems, we don’t know you, but through your words.
Those words made me want to help you hold your pain. I’ll never capture its heft, but maybe I can let you rest for just a moment.
Have you ever seen a wild cucumber? In late winter, its spring green tendrils, kinked as tight as curls, cling to every branch or fence it finds. Its fruit, spring green too, grows quickly into a palm-sized egg shape covered with long sea-urchin like spikes.
Once the growing season is over, the cucumber’s sharpness falls away; the fruit becomes a dry woven cup, often mistaken for a bird nest. Did I tell you the dried wild cucumber looks like lace? A sponge? A wish? If you lift its lightness toward the sun, you can see through the brown husk to sky. This cup looks fragile as a bird egg, but it’s sturdy enough that I use it to hold feathers, anchor a collage or capture hope.
I want you to know how we who hear you, read you, hold you up even when you need to fall. We are as inadequate and as enough as a husk. I think you were very brave yesterday in your non-silence, reverberant with raw grief.
After meeting you yesterday, I want to read your latest book, Undergloom. And I want to thank you for showing us how to keep living with words.
This is the first in a series of gratitude letters to poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.
You can read more about Prageeta Sharma here: Prageeta Sharma: The Poetry Foundation