Linda Pastan


Linda Pastan’s latest book is Traveling Light. She received the Ruth Lilly Prize in 2003, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award. From 1991 to 1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland.

Weeping Cherry

Our cherry
with its tortured limbs,
its writhing poses—
like some Dada sculpture
as it practices its beautiful
contortions all winter long—

is tricked out for April
in pastel blossoms,
like an old woman pretending
to be young in a new
and much too pink spring hat.
So when a wind comes up

and scatters all that color,
I am almost relieved as I stare
from the window at the fallen blossoms.
Though spring intoxicates with its tide
of green, its flowers, winter
has stricter compensations.

On the Beach

How forgiving all this beauty is
toward the aging human body.

Bolts of water unroll
their purples and blues,

white caps break
like so many crescent moons,

even the turtles
in their mottled shells

display themselves
benignly, as we

in our temporary flesh,
our blaring bathing suits,

plant ourselves
in the sand

like the arrogant flags
of a soon to be vanquished army.

I'm never sure where the impulse to write a poem comes from. Simply put, I looked out the window at the weeping cherry; I looked up from my towel at the beach and saw the sand, the waves, the turtle... and so the poems began.”