A poem for April 22nd

While in Ireland, I’ve been asked numerous times about the craziness that brought about the suicide of the Irish schoolgirl Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Mass., that Dani mentioned in earlier post.    I certainly don’t have any satisfactory explanation for what happened, but most of the people who have brought it up seem to see it as a notoriously American kind of event.  It reminded me of this William Stafford peom which I was able to find.

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid

There is a country to cross you will                                                                              find in the corner of your eye, in                                                                                             the quick slip of your foot–air far                                                                                            down, a snap that might have caught.                                                              And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing                                                                         voice that finds its way by being                                                                                               afraid.  That country is there, for us,                                                                                     carried as it is crossed.  What you fear                                                                                 will not go away: it will take you into                                                                                    yourself and bless you and keep you.                                                                 That’s the world, and we all live there.

I’d say that this poetic advice  or information is not easy to use, its reassurance not easy to understand, but for those who view life as a threatening landscape the poem has something to say that is quite touching.

Somehow connected to all of this is the fact that although the very air of Galway this week breathes poetry, beautiful prose  and the life of literature, I find myself responding to the enthusiastic comments of my writer friends Danny Denton and Mike McCormick and beginning to read Impact: The Human Stories Behind Ireland’s Road Tragedies by Jenny McCudden.  She is the Western Correspondent for TV3 News here and her book deals with Ireland’s “collision culture” through first-hand accounts and interviews with victim’s families, police, the boy racers, government officials and emergency workers.  It’s pretty grueling but powerful reportage.


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