Poem of the Week: "Something Like Enlightenment"

A few months ago, Erica O., one of my fellow former Wisconsin Institute Fellows sent me an article that she had recently had published. The writing, of course, was lovely, and one sentence really jumped out at me. I knew immediately that I wanted to use that sentence as a basis for a poem. I've gotten the first stanza pretty much done; here is the first stanza:

Something Like Enlightenment

There should be some word like “enlightenment”
that means what you learn from darkness.
—Erica O.

What you learn from the darkness: How to listen.
The sounds of your own breathing. How fragile
the breaths make you feel. How fragile you realize
that you are. The sounds
of her breathing. The air around
her tongue and teeth. The everyday miracle
of her. Then the sounds of her absence.
How quiet the night seems, how clear
your failure.


The poem goes on from there—how to feel, how to remember, how to think, how to see—but those stanzas still need work.