Poem-a-Day Friday: W.S. Merwin

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This week I started Lauren F. Winner’s Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. I love Lauren Winner. Girl Meets God was one of the first books that gave me hope that I could write about Jesus and actually be a good writer at the same time. Every time I see her name on an article in Books and Culture, I open to it first. She’s my girl.

That’s why it’s taken me far too long to get my hands on her new book (which was released in January). I finally got my act together and it arrived in the mail this week. Every slow moment since I’ve been giddily sneaking peaks at its pages.

I’ve never read much of W.S. Merwin’s poetry and I don’t know why. I guess I’ve just never yet made my way to his work. But in one of her first chapters, Winner quotes this poem and it gives me goose bumps and is just the poem about gratefulness that I’ve been seeking out for a long time. So, on my next library trip, I’m snatching some Merwin. And today, I’m giving you this little taste of grateful:

 

Thanks

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

-W.S. Merwin

 

Oh. My. That poem. I can’t read it enough. It needs to be framed in every room and framed in my brain. And I want to say it all day long so I don’t forget that sometimes saying thank you is the gift.

 

W.S. Merwin, “Thanks,” in Merwin,  Migration: New and Selected Poems (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005), 280.

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