Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Poems: "The Sri-Lankan's Golden Book" - by Sheryl Noethe

As I slept a small, gentle man handed me a book.
The spine was two strong twigs, the gold cover thin as tissue.
Markings undecipherable: could be Sanskrit, Arabic, Aramaic,
Something even more archaic.

As I run my fingers along the text, each name comes into my head.
I am an Iraqi woman cowering in her house with her children.
I hear her voice, feel the family around her, smell rice,
feel terror rip from their chests like blood-soaked silk.

I see eyes dark with indescribable suffering
I cannot lift my fingers from the pages, name without number.
Extending beyond culture and language into flesh.

Her red paper-thin shawl folds along her black hair down my shoulder.
I am next the suicide bomber, then his adoring younger brother.
I can not lift my hands. I weep as terribly as I've ever wept.
Until it wakes my husband. He pulls me from the dreams of blood.

This morning I call Judith to tell her the dream. I'm still shaky.
She whispers into the receiver, All of America, she says,
is having the same nightmare.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Sheryl Noethe has just been named as Montana's new Poet Laureate. She's also the director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative, a program that puts writers in the classroom to work with students. She has been awarded The McKnight Prize for Literature, a National Endowment for the Arts in Literature, a Montana State Arts Council Fellowship, the Hugo Prize from the University of Montana, and was chosen for the Pudding House Press Greatest Hits Collection. Noethe has also published a teaching text titled, Poetry Everywhere: Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community.

"The Sri-Lankan's Golden Book" was published in Noethe's collection, As Is.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to Sheryl for this recognition!

    Now, I know times are tough, but what does the Great State of Montana bestow on its Poets Laureate to carry out their mission? A stipend? A modest travel budget to take poetry around the fourth largest state in the nation? A budget for printing and copying? A business card? Or does it all end with the letter prepared from the Governor's office? Surely it doesn't COST someone to be named the Montana Poet Laureate? It does? Of course...we need more atl atl legislation...