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Biology / Stephen O'Connor

I came across this short poem on the excellent Poetry Foundation app which randomly selects a poem for your pleasure. Stephen O'Connor is an American poet and novelist but other than that I know nothing about him. But this little gem really caught my imagination.

The existential tussle between appreciating what we have and moving to experience new things is wrapped up in this image of the oyster with its 'torso-foot' attached to a rock. The line of one syllables in the middle of the poem suggest a rush of excitement towards the 'light beyond the over-swirl'. But then, despite the disappointment of 'worry' in the penultimate line, we do know what happens when an oyster 'worries' a bit of grit with its body...

Is this happiness or oyster-life?

This flexing of muscular torso-foot

joy's wonder? This sifting of silt

from food in the shifting chill-dark?

If, in my mind, there is a life of flight

in the light beyond the over-swirl,

must I unfix my lips from this rock

to be right? Or is my apex to worry

quartz against my shell?

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Kindness / Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is an American-Palestinian poet who lives in San Antonio. Her poetry is much garlanded and she has been Young People’s poet laureate. I was sent this poem by my friend Alice Eldridge

1 Comment

Bianca Aga
Bianca Aga
Jun 29, 2022

A "randomly selects" is like a fortune cookie! xx

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