Perhaps because I have been writing poetry since I was 11, I have tried to remember what it was like to be a child, and having children myself – grown-ups themselves now – that attempt to remember remains keen. That’s one of the sources of “After Disappointment.” It was originally published in a collection called Questions for Ecclesiastes back in 1997. My most recent book is Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems published by Sarabande Books in 2011. Sarabande will publish my next collection, The Heronry, in 2017. I make my living teaching at Vanderbilt University.
To lie in your child's bed when she is gone
Is calming as anything I know. To fall
Asleep, her books arranged above your head,
Is to admit that you have never been
So tired, so enchanted by the spell
Of your grown body. To feel small instead
Of blocking out the light, to feel alone,
Not knowing what you should or shouldn't feel,
Is to find out, no matter what you've said
About the cramped escapes and obstacles
You plan and face and have to call the world,
That there remain these places, occupied
By children, yours if lucky, like the girl
Who finds you here and lies down by your side.
Poem copyright ©1997 by Mark Jarman and reprinted from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems, Sarabande Books, 2011, by permission of Mark Jarman and the publisher.