Saturday, 25 June 2022

American Life in Poetry: What I Believe

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Kimberly Blaeser’s creed “What I Believe,” unfurls as a series of loaded riddle-like koans that lend themselves to meditative practice.

For her, the cost of faith and belief is a commitment to personal reflection and not the giving of “indulgences.”

At the heart of these reflections is a productive relationship between the human body and nature, and yet, in the end, there is a wonderful expression of the connections that exist between the living and the dead, and the spirits that populate our seen and unseen worlds: “…and that eyes we see in water are never our own.”

Sometimes a poem, like a prayer, rewards the ritual of repetition. This is such a poem.

What I Believe
By Kimberly Blaeser
after Michael Blumenthal

I believe the weave of cotton
will support my father's knees,
but no indulgences will change hands.

I believe nothing folds easily,
but that time will crease—
retrain the mind.

I believe in the arrowheads of words
and I believe in silence.

I believe the rattle of birch leaves
can shake sorrow from my bones,
but that we all become bare at our own pace.

I believe the songs of childhood
follow us into the kettles of age,
but the echoes will not disturb the land.

I believe the reach of the kayak paddle
can part the blue corridor of aloneness,
and that eyes we see in water are never our own.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Kimberly Blaeser, “What I Believe” from Copper Yearning, (Holy Cow! Press, 2019.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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