Sunday, February 5, 2012

Remembering Irene McKinney

As you may know, WV Poet Laureate Irene McKinney died yesterday. She was a friend to many of us here at WVU and, through her poems, a companion to many more.

As is often the case with poetry, poems that seemed to mean one thing, now seem to mean something else, or something also. Here's one such poem from Irene's Six O'Clock Mine Report:

Taking Hold

Water. Water. Water.
Slips through our hands, eases, wets our mouths.
Such a liquid voice issuing from a rock.
And it has mouths and lips of its own.
Much faster than fire it enters the chain
of our being, and doesn't offend our fishy nature.
Its maps are trickling where I want to go.

But to be taken hold of by fire is to be lifted
into another form, so you can't know where you've been.
We are liable to be eaten in that guise, but
nature loves to hide, and I do too.
I do, I love to hide between the flare and wash,
the burning and the drink. In that clarity,
taking hold in love, I feel both flame and balm,
taking the grip of the fire for granted, taking the water

in, since that's what I already am.

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