Nobel laureate Derek Walcott died on St. Patrick's Day. While he's most known for writing the EPIC poem Omeros, he also wrote one of my favorite (short) poems that I wanted to share with you.
Love after Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I think any worthwhile poem (or song or book) grows with you over time. When you read it (or hear it) for the first time, you soak it up with the capacity you have at that moment. Then, as you get older, you come back to it with fresh eyes and new experiences and it touches you in a different way.
I found this poem at a trying time in my life, when I was feeling lost. It inspired a conversation with myself about what I needed. I took some if it literally, opening up a box of memories and actually feasting on my life. The poem reminded me to take stock of who I am and where I've been, and really get back to the center of me.
Years later, I read the poem again, and saw new shades of meaning. I was now a mom and the "other" I was ignoring myself for was not a lover but the smaller, louder, more insistent males in my life. And now it's even more important to remember who I am and come back to center when I'm feeling lost.
Thank you, Mr. Walcott, for helping me do that.
You can read more about the poet and playwright in the Guardian article announcing his death.