This morning, we’re continuing the Monday Morning series that we began last month in celebration of National Poetry and API Heritage Months. Each week, we will be sharing an audio recording of a different poem that has moved, challenged, or stuck with us.
In this week’s selection, from Lee Herrick’s book This Many Miles from Desire (via From the Fishhouse, once again), the poet wrestles with memory, grief, and absence as he imagines his birth mother. “The blues,” says the speaker, “is what mothers do not tell their sons.”
Indeed, the speaker’s blues is a blues of not-knowing, of what is hidden, and of what may never be revealed: it is the question of who his birth mother was, of whether she remembers him, of why he was left at five months; it is the tears he sheds upon remembering that his Korean (presumably birth) name means “bright light”; it is the shreds of things known which he holds onto in the night, the trying on of layers of shimmering imagination like screens across the holes of memory: “Who can really say?” He says, “Sometimes all we have is the blues.”
For those we have lost, for the shreds of lyric and verse that we weave against the poverty of memory, across and through the still ravines of grief:
Yes. Salvation can lie in “the spirit’s wreckage, / examined and damaged but whole again.”
Today, all we have is the blues.
To listen to the recording, click through and then hit “play” on the grey bar next to the ear icon at the top of the page.
Iris & Mia.