poetry dose | three

Two of my good friends (1 & 2) shared around a lovely graduation speech by Donald Antrim — you can read it here in The New Yorker.

I love both of those women and also this piece.

Just, come on —

I hope that you will be faced with difficult choices and decisions, trials that won’t undo you, but that will drive you toward reflection and understanding. Trust that your fears will sometimes tell you about your desires. You will see that you can survive the terror that comes with growth and change, with vulnerability and risk. Depend on others.

It’s so good. Antrim did the opposite of “politely keeping the big secret” — he threw the doors open and let us all see into his underwater scream.

That is to say, it reminded me of this Tony Hoagland poem:
tony hoagland

Don’t Tell Anyone – Tony Hoagland

We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—


that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.


Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
concealing anything,
not as if I should consider myself


personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,


—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,


then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.
For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently,


politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun
to be ripped by the crooked beak


of something called psychology,
to be dipped down
again and again into time;


that the truest, most intimate
pleasure you can sometimes find
is the wet kiss


of your own pain.
There goes Kath, at one PM, to swim her twenty-two laps
back and forth in the community pool;


—what discipline she has!
Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,
that will never be read by anyone.

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