Remembering Mark Strand

I was in a bad way my final year at university. Constantly busy and apparently successful, but unwell. Even now to speak of it, I cling to comfortable, tired phrases: ill at ease, sick at heart. At the time, I clung to words as well. I taped poems to my bedroom wall that made me stop when I read them. None of them were longer than a page, but any one of them could hold me and give me a few moments to find my breath again. One of those poems was Mark Strand’s ‘Keeping Things Whole.’ It is only three stanzas long, but since I was seventeen it has been able to make me feel both great and small. Mark Strand, thank you for teaching me to be still in order to keep moving.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

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