If you had to make the quill
pen in the old way, stripping
the feathers, cutting the well,
splitting & shearing the tip
off clean; if you had to grind
the ink, holding the cake
straight against the stone,
circling until your wrist ached
to get the proper tone of black;
would you wonder, as you sat before the paper
what sort of poem was worthy of your labor?
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam Green served for two years as Washington's Poet Laureate after being named to the position in December 2007 by Governor Chris Gregoire.
Sam is a distinguished poet and author of ten poetry collections, including The Grace of Necessity, which recently won the Washington State Book Award for Poetry. For nearly 30 years he has served as editor of Brooding Heron Press. Sam has been visiting poet and poetry teacher at Seattle University for several years and is active with the Skagit River Poetry Festival.
"If You Had To" was published in Green's collection, The Grace of Necessity, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008.