Why Children Should Read Poetry (for Linda Pastan)

To find that someone else at twelve years old

Had read The Highwayman like you had then

And learned to love it – word by precious word

Counting its meters in her blood’s rhythm

And in the echoes of her “breathless heart”

Who found in Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

The black-eyed image of her mild-eyed mom

And so the bundled world of her childhood

Unraveled with every reading into

An imagined place she could in thinking

Enter, taking out the patterned phrases

Like keys that would open up a future


For me – a chance to clatter and to clash

Over cobblestones to reach my true love

Whose red lips and dark-eyed beauty held me

Whose long black hair flowered in crimson bows

While the copper moon hovers above me

A ghostly ship tossed upon cloudy seas

And the road was a ribbon of moonlight

Oh – it had everything I could want then

The gold, the chase, the chance for love and death