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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 16, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a book-length collection of unrhymed sonnets that will in some way compose a memoir. It emerged from one conversation among many I had with the composer Kurt Rohde while we were in residency together. The poem started with a question, which grew from a deep curiosity and developed into an even deeper connection.”
—Diane Seuss

What Is It You Feel I Asked Kurt

What is it you feel I asked Kurt when you listen to
Ravel’s String Quartet in F-major, his face was so lit up
and I wondered, “the music is unlike the world I live
or think in, it’s from somewhere else, unfamiliar and unknown,
not because it is relevant to the familiar and comfortable,
but because it brings me to that place that I didn’t/couldn’t
imagine existed. And sometimes that unfamiliar place is closer
to my world than I realize, and sometimes it’s endlessly distant,”
that’s what he wrote in an email when I asked him
to remind me what he’d said earlier, off the cuff, “I don’t
recall exactly what I said,” he began, a sentence written
in iambic pentameter, and then the rest, later he spoke of two
of his brothers who died as children, leukemia and fire,
his face, soft, I’m listening to Ravel now, its irrelevancy.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Seuss. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Seuss. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss was born in Michigan City, Indiana, in 1956 and raised in Edwardsburg and Niles, Michigan. She studied at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, where she received a master’s degree in social work. Seuss is the author of three books of poetry: Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press, 2015); Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), recipient of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (New Issues Press, 1998).

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and I did, clear up to my

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The grief, when I finally contacted it 
decades later, was black, tarry, hot,
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Sometimes we’d come upon a toad 
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a