“[By the estate of poetry], I do not mean the estate over which the poetic imagination rules, whose bounds we do not know. Each poet has nothing more than a right of entry to it, and a patch of ground which he is at liberty to cultivate….by cultivating his holding each poet adds to the world of poetic imagination, and that therefore it can never be regarded as completely embodied — reason for discouragement and hope, and an earnest of the continuance of poetry.” Edwin Muir, The Estate of Poetry (1)
It had been awhile since I googled my friend, poet and editor extraordinaire Kevin Craft. It was a rewarding experience. Since our paths have diverged, his work on Poetry Northwest has continued to expand a well-deserved reputation. Here is a poem from his first book, Solar Prominence. May there be many more.
frowns when he finds out he’s not alone.
Was grown from cells
scraped from the inside of my cheek.
I’m nobody’s second string,
he insists to the talk show host
egging us on. (Loud applause
from the studio audience.) I’m a self-
made man, not the other
way around. Steely-eyed and neatly
groomed, he’s as brash
as a dressing room mirror.
Backstage he takes me aside.
Nothing personal, he admits, running a hand
through his long black hair.
They put us on to air our differences,
is all. Thought I’d play ball.
He does, in fact, play soccer
in the Italian leagues.
He was shipped at cell’s first division
to a western fertility lab,
so that we grew up on opposite coasts, a case
of nurture versus second
nature. He is savvy
beyond his years and makes me seem
thwarted and unsure. And now he sniffs
at the guestroom cabernet, smoking a fat cigar.
Is this what it means to turn the other cheek?
Perhaps, he says, stretching
out on the double bed as if
he counts the same sheep I do before sleep
or reads the Dadaists for moral instruction.
As for second guessing, he adds,
you’re not the only one.