Passion and Work

Today, I’m holding my first book in my hands, fresh from its Barnes & Noble packaging. It contains nearly twenty years of work: poems that were edited over and over, pushed into envelopes, some accepted and some rejected by journals. Some were loved, some not. Now they will reach a wider audience. And now I say goodbye to them, and start new work.

I was thinking today about Jorie Graham’s “I Watched A Snake,” a poem which examines how passion, desire, and work intersect in our lives. A brief excerpt:

Desire

is the honest work of the body,

its engine, its wind.

It too must have its sails-wings

in this tiny mouth, valves

in the human heart, meanings like sailboats

setting out

over the mind. Passion is work

that retrieves us,

lost stitches. It makes a pattern of us,

it fastens us

to sturdier stuff

no doubt.

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