The Paris Review

Poetry Rx: This Is the Year

In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This week, Sarah Kay is on the line.

©Ellis Rosen

Dearest Poets,

The women who raised me suffered so many missed opportunities, and I am seized with guilt about it. I construct vivid images from the stories I know. I imagine my grandmother as a married seventeen-year-old woman-child, patiently waiting for the local florist to pass by our house so she could catch a whiff of the fragrant champac flowers she had no money to buy. How long did it take for her to give up on this tiny desire, I wonder? I imagine my mother doodling soft hands offering lotus obeisance to who-knows-which-god, over and over in the margins of her book. She must have been giving away her tenderness, surely? I see my aunt posing shyly for a photo, which is now torn in half. In a year, I will defend my doctoral thesis. This should be a vindication. But it doesn’t feel that way. Is there a poem for the taste

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review8 min read
Re-Covered: A Blisteringly Honest Lesbian Suicide Memoir
In her monthly column Re-Covered, Lucy Scholes exhumes the out-of-print and forgotten books that shouldn’t be. Photo: Lucy Scholes In April 1962, after a day of sailing in Dorset, the fifty-year-old English writer and teacher Rosemary Manning got int
The Paris Review3 min read
Redux: In Memoriam, Susannah Hunnewell
Susannah Hunnewell in 2017, at the magazine’s Spring Revel. Courtesy of The Paris Review. The Paris Review is mourning the loss of our publisher and friend, Susannah Hunnewell. Over the course of her long affiliation with the magazine—she began as an
The Paris Review6 min read
Sorry, Peter Pan, We’re Over You
Sabrina Orah Mark’s monthly column, Happily, focuses on fairy tales and motherhood. On the day before Halloween, my son’s teacher tells me, with the seriousness of a funeral director, that Noah has decided he does not want to be Peter Pan after all.