Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 300,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

Vestiges

About this Poem 

“I’ve been returning, again and again, to Rilke, and so this poem borrows a good deal of its structure from him. Also, I turned fifty this year, and one of my meditations has been on how often experiences and lessons from my past, some good and some bad, come back to me—guiding my steps, providing strength—in the present.”
A. Van Jordan

Vestiges

A. Van Jordan, 1965

I would like to swim in the Atlantic,
to swim with someone who understood
why my fear of drowning plays less dire

than my fear of bones, walking the ocean floor.
I would like to sync my stroke with a beloved.
I’d like to stand on deck on a boat

and jump in the sea and say, follow me,
and know you would. The sea is cold
and it’s deep, too
, I’d joke,

standing at the edge of the boat’s bow.
A wind breathes across the sea,
joining gently the edges of time.

With a dog paddling behind me,
I want to crawl across the water
without thinking about a future.

I have set my eyes upon the shore
and I hold you there—steady, in focus—
but let you go when, from below,

a voice breaks to the surface.

Copyright © 2015 by A. Van Jordan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by A. Van Jordan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.