Jan 2 • 1M

Song of Friendship

I revamped my newsletter <3

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Poems and letters and little jokes, from me to you
Episode details

Song of Friendship
for Nicole

We raise our kids in the water—
first the water of our bodies

then in summer, the body of water
closest to our homes.

At the pond today
we were three moms

with four kids. One of us
in a bikini top

and red gym shorts, the other
fully clothed, insistent

she couldn’t find a suit
or a single piece of clothing

that wasn’t black.
We believed her

I believed her
four months ago

when she said
with half a smile

that the best thing
about having a second child

was not having to worry anymore
about whether or not

she’d have a second child.
Because all the math

we learned in school
was only half-right—

one plus one is two
as well as three: a newfound

family. Adding more
equals four, also equals

foreverlong until
the song of someone

asking for a snack
recedes like birdsong in fall.

At the pond today
all of life was lived

inside a few hours:
a frog caught and caught again;

a drowning averted;
fourteen truths between us

and a single bag of chips.
We get old,

we get young,
we get old again

in the course of a single day
thanks to our children,

in honor of our children,
in the presence of each other.

What I’m Reading:

  1. All of It Singing by Linda Gregg—it’s her collected poems and my sis gave it to me for Xmas. Thanks, sissy! I am enjoying the poems but have been distracted while reading them because in my head I knew she had been in a relationship with Jack Gilbert, but then I thought she married/got together with a woman after that? And then the other night I was just frantically googling “DID LINDA GREGG END UP BECOMING A LESBIAN” on my phone which did not yield results. I must be thinking of someone else. Poets, if you know who that is, please reply to this!

  2. One Hundred Autobiographies by David Lehman—For some reason, I am able to read about scarier things these days, topics I always used to shy away from (like sickness and death). I’m not sure why but I’m happy about it because it opens up a lot. This book is 100 short essays written by a poet and literary critic after he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He lived, and he wrote his way through the whole process. Sounds like something I would do if I got a really scary diagnosis.

  3. Selected Poems by W. S. Merwin—Wow. I hadn’t read Merwin in a while and I had forgotten how genius he is, and how exciting his lines are, how daring in their structure and breaks. I’ve been reading him in the morning with my coffee and having to slap my forehead with awe repeatedly. I just never really relate to the word “master” and then I read someone like Merwin and I’m like, Oh. Right. This is where the word “master” is actually relevant. Want to read some? Try “Provision” (amazing) or “Separation” (how did he do that with so few words), or “Berryman” (god I love that ending).

What I Just Read:

  1. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney—I actually enjoyed this novel and raced through it, which surprised me, as I loathed, LOATHED Conversations with Friends, it actually made me angry I disliked it so much, which was especially disappointing because it has a poet as a protagonist, and that never happens—people think we belong in fairy tales and not the stuff of real-life. But I did love the tv adaptation of Rooney’s other book, Normal People, because all that ennui could be turned into dramatic, long looks between two good-looking people, and I will happily watch that, I just don’t want to read it. But this newest Rooney was interesting, I felt like Rooney has grown up a bit and this narrative was a bit more adult, developed, and intellectual. I also like that the novel is partly made up of letters.

  2. Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder—I loved this! It’s a graphic novel about the author losing her mother to cancer when she was in college. It was real and funny and also very Jewish, which I enjoyed. I read it in one day, which is the pleasure of graphic novels, and I think this one is even technically YA, which is like Pirate’s Booty for me, I can eat it all up, feel a little sick because of the fast devour, but also feel good because like the ingredients are like, pretty good.

  3. Matrix by Lauren Groff—After 100 pages, it still felt like the story hadn’t started, and so I stopped reading it and returned it to the library. A tragedy!! I love Lauren Groff! Fates and Furies is one of my faves! The writing in Matrix is gorgeous, honed, sharp, distilled, pungent, amazing. But the story. Is stalled. Lauren!! Lauren. Sigh.

    Postscripts & Shoutouts

    I moved my newsletter from Tinyletter to Substack. Maybe this phrase means nothing to you, but suffice to say, I wanted to be able to do more things within the body of the letter, so I switched my platform and now I have endless possibilities, such as the ability to record myself reading a poem and embed that right in the thing. Which I only did after one of my nearest + dearest suggested that they would love to hear my voice occasionally. Shoutout to Kit for the idea—love you. The recording is a bit glitchy but I will get better at it. Perfection is for other people.

    I think this newsletter will have some poems, some recordings, some essay-type things, and some notes on what books I’m reading. The list of books part makes me miss my other newsletter, Read Literately, a lot. Shoutout to Kathryn, the other half of Read Literately. We made a thing consistently for a year or two and about 100 or so people read it and like 16 people LOVED it, and that was fucking great. Especially when one of the lovers was at Katie’s wedding and got a little drunk and told me how much she loved it, with like, a lot of impassioned hand gestures and outrageous statements. I was really pregnant and had just pulled a muscle doing a dance move, so I was breathing sort of weirdly but really appreciated the feedback.