Literary Hook: Poem finds meaning in the layers of life

November 30, 2011

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Jo Balisteri was a student of last month’s class at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin. Her work is moving and original. Jo has had poems published in Crab Creek Review, Passager, Windhover, Quill and Parchment, Echoes and other magazines. A collection of her work, Joy in the Morning, was recently published by Bellowing ArkPress. This poem was inspired by a poem we read in class, “The Layers,” by Stanley Kunitz. Enjoy!

Live in the Layers and Not on the Litter line by Stanley Kunitz, The Layers

Late afternoon sun on beechnut leaves,

symmetrical, saw-toothed and copper, shiny

as a new penny. Polished by light, they hang

from branches like Christmas tree ornaments,

radiance-filled for the gray days.

I lie against bed pillows and read

then look again outside;

Read.

Look.

And it seems that living in the layers

is just this — paying attention to the gifts

of this earth. Witnessing and giving

voice to beauty, to the fragility

and impermanence of even one beechnut leaf

in its moment of luminosity.

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011, issue

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