July 12, 2020

Nicole Caruso Garcia

THE YEAR THAT SORROW SHOOK ME BY THE CUFF

lines from 60 poems by Kim Bridgford

You wanted to create, to be like God,
Your fingers on the pulse of poetry,
And if the story strained, you said, “Tell it.”

I was in love with all of them,
The way that words, in all their rawness, burn.
The way a text will flare and start to catch.

You seemed to know the most about the dark,
For books sewn up with thread, or Death’s kind face
And, through a piece of chalk, made knowledge gleam.

Poets and believers know,
Of course, there will be snakes around fruit,
There are ways to keep the women from the table.
It was the easiest thing to blame an Eve.

And yet when women start to write their poems,
With the taste of sex, and nerve, and milk and honey,
There’s the moment of true confession,
Relentless as the skull beneath the face.

A quavering sonnet, truth of someone’s life!
We should be sharing as we seize the day.
Guide others through their opportunities.

The family tree of sisters, and each branch
Like friendship that is offered by the yard,
You were the light around which people gathered.
You never thought the absence would be you.

I felt that I could live forever,
The calendar unthinkable as snow.

The poet’s carpe diem attitude:
We have to take a risk or risk our death.
And this is what I think when I’m afraid.

Like a statue in the thick of what’s grown wild,
So many die in life and do not tell you.

You pulled me up. The not-seen was now seen,
The breathlessness of what is possible.
A prisoner of mortality and bone,
Unfairness licks your face with its bitter and hungry tongue.

There are things I would have liked to have done.

When everything you did, you did for us,
Is it fair to ask for any more than that?
The Eden you had left us leaf by leaf?

I feel that I was born to do this duty.
You can forget it was not easy at all.

When love can’t heal you fast enough,
What is deserved gets lost in desert sand,
The angels, unfathomable as a lost language.

I know you love me; never did I doubt.
The grave is no deterrent to a kiss.

Where mourners kiss the curdles of their fear
And the children bow their pretty heads—

Don’t give me pity but the surest way,
The heaven-stairs to the miraculous.

While faith is sturdy with the infinite,
How often does your heart feel sad like this?:
I am, I am, I am, I am, I am.

I am myself, but made anew.
I heard him call my name, and then I rose
To walk the starry beaches of the sky.

In death, how could you be so eloquent?
And like a radio that picks up song,
This or that flat stone flung in adieu,
Made all the words line up and mourn for you.

from Poets Respond
July 12, 2020

__________

Nicole Caruso Garcia: “I read this poem this evening at Fairfield University MFA’s online memorial event, ‘Remembering and Celebrating Dr. Kim Bridgford.’ Kim passed away on June 28, and this week, in preparation for this event in which I would be participating, I tried to find solace by surrounding myself with Kim books. As I engaged with her words, this tribute poem began to manifest. It is a found poem, so every word is Kim’s, including the title. Spanning all her books, the poem is built solely from individual lines from 60 of Kim’s poems, one for each year of her beautiful life. No more than one line is taken from any given poem—with the exception of one extra line, which was too beautiful not to include. The poem is meant to be read as a conversation between the speaker (who could be me, or perhaps any poet whose life she touched), and Kim herself. I offer this poem with love and admiration, and as a testament to the universality of Kim Bridgford’s voice.” (web)

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