Today’s poem is “Yesterday” by Peter Harris. Peter is the author of two books of poetry, Blue Hallelujahs and Freeing the Hook. For many years he taught American literature and creative writing at Colby College.
He writes, “The background of ‘Yesterday’ is my frequent trips to Perkins Arboretum in Waterville—on the Colby campus. There’s one bench where I sometimes sit. It was spring and I was in a fine mood, enjoying the brook and the sun, when what should I find but a group of smoked objects, arranged, sort of, suggesting their kinship. The poem happened out of that absurdist premise.”
by Peter Harris
In the arboretum sitting on the green bench
by that little bridge over the stream,
I’m letting things slowly appear:
above me the greening spring canopy,
all those clever leaves each slipping into an open spot,
below me the cracked mosaic of last fall’s leaves.
On the far bank, a robin robins by, fiddleheads galore
untwirl their violins and play the atmosphere.
Just to my left, I see a nesting pair of light brown
cigarette butts, and then two more.
No tobacco left. They must have wintered over.
The Filters. A family of four.
As I gather them in my palm, I uncover
a fifth, a cousin: the remains of a joint.
silent reminder of a long-gone buzz.
What a planet! What diversity, and how
flexible we are as a species, redefining
the family, using a variety of herbs and words
to take the edge off that particular precinct
of the dreadful that has already happened.
Poem copyright © Peter Harris. Reprinted by permission of Peter Harris.