Grace Paley


One of my projects this year is to wade through my 2008 "one bad poem" notebook. Today, I found this poem, and (of course) tinkered with it.

Missing Grace

Didn't she have a busy, useful life? So
much more than mine -- protesting war,
marching for Civil Rights.
The sort of old leftie I most admire,
The last summer of her life,
I rose each morning to sit at my desk, pen
in my hand, feeling small.
What could I do?
Late in the afternoon, I'd take my notebook
to the garden. My children were young,
they are young still.
They don't care for poems.
Grace Paley visited me sometimes that summer --
if only in my imagination.
She patted my hand, told me not to worry so damn much.
That the children would grow up
in spite of me. She told me to write,
that writing was enough for today.
The world's not fixed up so great just yet,
she'd say, and
There's plenty left for you to do.

Comments