Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “Other People’s Lives” by Vona Groarke
In this short month that is often characterized by love and intimacy, Vona Groarke’s poem “Other People’s Lives” reminds its reader of the solitude that often accompanies this time of year. In this poem, the speaker grapples with the absence of perhaps a former lover or close friend within the distance between the speaker’s individual sadness and the lives of others.
Other People’s Lives
That letter you promised me writes itself
in a sheaf of streets with their bar hubbub:
bottles poured onto a midden in a lane, the odd jazz riff,
a clasp of laughter, some half-shouted name.
I might as well be out on the rocks, leafing through
an archived sea for a single entry to account for
my guest metaphors; to ascribe to me some pageantry,
street hymns yeasting, nightly, within these tepid hours.
What has the measure of the all-insistent, offshore boom
of other people’s lives? Not the wood pigeon that, at least
for now, has stopped clattering aloneness in the rowan.
Not the cigarette’s calligraphy that has nothing to explain.
Not the halogen light that islands the deck,
pinpointing your absence in this and every night.