I’ve never met the poet Ruth Stone, but I know people who know her — as far as I know, at age 95, Ruth’s still writing her strong, beautiful, passionate poetry up there in Addison County, Vermont.
Mind you, I know that Ruth’s had a harder go of it than most, certainly including me. Her husband committed suicide in 1959 — she raised their children alone, and her beautiful love poems, as an anonymous writer on Wikipedia puts it so aptly, are all written to a dead man.
Lots of trouble sleeping lately…dozing off around midnight, but then waking up at 3 or 4 a.m., with such a whirring mind that I just cannot sleep…finally dozing off, thank you, as I look out the window of this room and see the sky is already brightening…as I hear birds already beginning their morning matins…So yesterday at 4 a.m., trying to distract my mind from memories and musings by reading myself back to sleep, I came upon this poem by Ruth Stone, the last poem in her collection “In the Next Gallery,” published by Copper Canyon Press in 2002:
The poem is called “Mantra.” Here’s the first stanza:
When I am sad
I sing, remembering
the redwing blackbird’s clack.
Then I want nothing
except to turn time back
to what I had
before love made me so sad.
Maybe that’s what I need to do to get some sleep…adopt this mantra…turn time back to what I had…when the sky began to brighten and the birds began to sing but I was asleep and I was at peace.