Regeneration

Nov 30, 2018

Today’s poem is “Regeneration” by Carolyn Locke. Carolyn was a high school teacher for many years and she is the author of two books of poetry, Always This Falling and The Place We Become. She has also written a haibun, a traditional Japanese form that combines prose and haiku, called Not One Thing: Following Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Interior.

She writes, “Poems have a way of surfacing when you least expect them and taking you to unexpected places. 'Regeneration' began with my observations of starfish while I was canoeing along the coast of Deer Isle plus a couple of facts about how they navigate the world. When I began writing, I had a feeling it would be a poem that I had been wanting to write about my brother, but instead the images took on a life of their own, and it became a love poem for my husband. You just never know.” 

Regeneration
by Carolyn Locke

for Gerry

I heard how the starfish learns the world
through touch, how its chemical sense
leads it to the mussel bed, how it feels
its way around crevices sucking soft bodies
from their shells. You can’t kill a starfish
in any usual way—chop one up
and it multiplies, filling the waters
with quintuples of spiny legs
reaching out from humped backs, and curling
around the deep purple shells on the rocky
bottom. Sometimes I think I know
what it is to know the world
through only the body. If I close my eyes,
I no longer feel where my body ends
and yours begins—
and I can believe your hands are mine
reaching for muscle,
a strange body becoming my own,
and in my ear an unfamiliar heartbeat
pumps new blood, breath no longer mine
doubles the lungs, my need
growing larger than what my body can hold
until there is only this way of knowing, this touch
that leads me, blind as the starfish,
to become what I cannot see. 

Poem copyright © 2010 Carolyn Locke. Reprinted from Always This Falling, Maine Authors Publishing, 2010, by permission of Carolyn Locke.