A Poem By Anne Porter

I heard an Anne Porter poem, “Winter Twilight,” read by Garrison Keillor on “The Writer’s Almanac” several days ago, and I can’t get it out of my head. I think it resonates so strongly because it’s very close to my own sensibility and aesthetic; without at all meaning to sound full of myself, I feel like I could have written that poem. All winter I’ve been looking up at the squirrel dreys (nests) wondering how to turn those big clumps of leaves into something poetic. And she did it so naturally, so perfectly. I think I would have enjoyed talking with her about her craft, although much of her poetry takes a more religious turn than my own. Alas, she passed away well before I had the chance to meet her, but I was fortunate enough to stay in her house once.

Anne Porter was the wife of the artist Fairfield Porter, whose work I much admire. In 2008 I was fortunate enough to attend Art Week, a retreat held on Great Spruce Head Island, which is still owned by the Porter family, on the other side of Penobscot Bay. A handful of artists and one other writer and I spent a wonderful week in what had been Anne and Fairfield’s house, inspired by Anne’s poetry (read by her niece Anina, who runs the retreat), Fairfield’s art (including a painting of the great room where we spent most of our time, looking utterly unchanged, as well as the family of dragons he painted on the upper walls of that same great room), and brother Eliot’s photography (his color bird photography was some of the first and best of its kind).

Ah, that’s what I wish
I’d said about dreys, the moon.
But grateful she did.