In honor of Virginia Military Institute's Inaugural Poetry Seminar April 4-5, I offer a poem by Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson, whom I heard read at the Virginia Festival of the Book:
You always washed artifacts
at the kitchen sink, your back
to the room, to me, to the mud
you'd tracked in from whatever
neighbor's field had just been plowed.
Spearpoints, birdpoints, awls and leaf-
shaped blades surfaced from the turned earth
as though from beneath some thicker
water you tried to see into.
You never tired, you told me, of the tangible
past you could admire, turn over
and over in your hand—the first
to touch it since the dead one that had
worked the stone. You lined bookshelves
and end tables with them; obsidian,
quartz, flint, they measured the hours you'd spent
with your head down, searching for others,
and also the prized hours of my own
saved alongside those artifacts
that had been for so long lost.
(Thanks to Blackbird, an online literary journal of literature and art)