Friday, February 28, 2014

What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit the ever-inspiring Anastasia Suen at Poet! Poet! for Roundup.

I'm pretty much in love with WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by Joyce Sidman. It includes 4 sections: Spells & Invocations, Chants & Charms, Laments & Remembrances, Praise Songs & Blessings.

Here are three of my favorites (though I totally could have selected 3 entirely different ones. Much to love here!):

Blessing on the Curl of Cat

As Cat curls
in a circle of sun--
sleep and round,
snug and warm,
a hint of ear
cocked in readiness--
so may I find y place
in this shifting world:
secure within yourself,
certain of my wroth,
equally willing to
             or leap.

-Joyce Sidman

Illness: A Conversation

I asked my feet why they could not walk
and they said, We are treading water.

I asked my legs why they buckled and fell
and they said, We are growing roots.

I asked my fingers why they had loosened their grip
on the world and they said, It is too hard to hold.
We are gathering clouds instead.

Why? I asked my eyes, which kept crying and crying,
and they said, We are waiting for the very last ear.

Speak! I told my lips, but my voice was not my own.

So I asked my heart, Who am I now?
and my heart said, The you underneath the you.

And I asked my soul, Who will I be?
and my soul answered,
        The one whose heart is open,
        the one whose eyes are clear,
        the one whose hands are full of sky.

-Joyce Sidman

Song in a Strange Land

I awaken in a village
on a mountain
far from anything
I have ever known.

My eyes are no use--
the dark is that deep--
and my ears
buzz with silence.

No ripples in the black,
no chink in the quiet.

I could rise, teeter,
rumble down the hillside,
drown in the sea.
Why am I not afraid?
Amazed, my heart
waits for direction.

And there -- oh!
A rooster has found the dawn.
Its peal arcs through dark,
waking the circling hills
till the valley rings
like a steel drum.

Oh, yes,
says my heart.
Whatever the day brings,
let it ring.
Whatever the music,
let me sing.

- Joyce Sidman

Let us all sing!


  1. It is a lovely book, Irene. And there are some poems that 'sing' to me, too. Thanks for sharing these.

  2. It's such an exquisite collection. Joyce is amazing. Was happy to hear this book is a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

  3. The second one--wow. I want to give this to my daughter when she gets home.

  4. I seem to fall in love with just about anything from Joyce Sidman. Thank you for the reminder of that wonderful collection.

  5. This is a wonderful book to own, to return to often, and to give as a gift!

  6. Another amazing Sidman creation. Thank you for sharing her words "The you underneath the you". Powerful and lovely. = )


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