Writers' Corner

Joanna Goodman

2003 Poetry

Author's Statement

When I received the call from the NEA, I was sitting on the floor of my child's room pretending to be Mary Poppins. We had recently moved from New York City to a small town in Central Pennsylvania, and it was cold out. I remember, in the hours before the call came, feeling something that might resound with others - exalted and enlarged by my daughter's presence, yet disconcerted, too, by the sprawling, slow silence of the house. I'm sure I struggled, more than once that day, with the familiar question of how I would carve out the space to write while also holding down a full-time job and trying to be a full-time mother. Would I miss the boat on all three counts? How could I not? And then my life changed.

As much as I believe in believing in oneself, there's nothing like a sudden jolt of validation and faith from the NEA. I'll be spending my jolly holiday, this spring and summer, in my attic office, thanks to them, focusing.


Tell the truth: no key appeared in your mouth,
no sound like mum, which wouldn't help anyway.
Give me a word to get through the night.
Something spontaneous, fluid:
see the hand's unintended imprint on the shore,

fireworks dissolving into black sky-

       Try now. Ripple. Yes.
Put the two of us in a boat on the gray river;
keep rowing in a circle while on the hazy banks
clumps of grass swarm and echo the rhythm of words
we had once spoken: after this, mistake me for someone else.
Sleep no more. Wave. Wave. That's love enough.