On Poetry and Separation

Recently, I feel like every conversation with family and friends begins with, “Well, you sure are traveling a lot.”

Whenever I pick up a bag – any bag around the house – my twenty month old son waves at me and says “bye da-da.”

I’ve been on the road roughly three times a month for the last three months. On a rare afternoon at home I heard an NPR story about our new poet laureate, W.S. Merwin. Merwin writes incredible poetry imbued with a profound connection to land and landscape. He is overtly political and deeply personal. But as the interview was winding down, the host asked Merwin to read a older poem I wasn’t familiar with.

The poem was called “Separation” and hearing it was like reading some long forgotten note to myself. It encompassed and articulated so much of how I have been feeling – capturing the unique absence that separation from one’s family creates. It is a longing like no other. It is at once the hole and the thread that mends it.

Here is the poem. For my wife and son, as I embark on another trip later this week.

By W.S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

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