As neatly as peas
in their green canoe,
as discreetly as beads
strung in a row,
sit drops of dew
along a blade of grass.
But unattached and
subject to their weight,
they slip if they accumulate.
Down the green tongue
out of the morning sun
into the general damp,
It's the birthday of the poet Kay Ryan born in San Jose, California (1945). She grew up in a series of small towns along the desert. Her father was always trying to come up with get-rich-quick schemes, selling Christmas trees, and buying land mining operations. He died while reading a get-rich-quick book.
Kay Ryan went off to college. She just started writing poetry as a teenager. For ten years she only wrote when she had some spare time. And then a few months before her 30th birthday, she decided to take a cross country bicycle trip, 4,000 miles to give her time to think about what to do with her life. She was out in the middle of Colorado when the rhythmic movement of pedaling the bike got her thinking about poetry, and she realized she had to devote her life to being a poet.
She got a job teaching remedial English composition at a local college, and she made sure she'd only have to teach two days a week so she could spend all the rest of her time writing. She pared her life down to the basic essentials so she could afford to live on her meager salary.
She's published just four books of poetry over thirty years, including Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends and Flamingo Watching.
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It's one of my favorite things to read.