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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


I’m feeling meditative today, the 13th anniversary of the day my late husband, William J. (Bill) Higginson died. The mysteries of time, loss, eternity, infinity—those names we’ve given to what we are born into, follow us all our lives. I know that “time” has haunted all my poems from the very first I wrote back in my early twenties.

I was 68 when Bill died, and now, suddenly, I’m 81. Hard to believe! Time does soften the edges of grief, life goes on. I will always love and miss Bill, and carry him in my heart’s memories, but even back then when sometimes it was so hard, I felt compelled to celebrate each day.

When searching for a poem to share this morning, I rejected the grieving ones that are in my now o/p 2013 collection “Recycling Starlight,” or those, like the two I posted last week, that still shimmer around the edges of loss in last year’s collection “A Prayer the Body Makes.”

Instead, I found this one, realizing that I will still “run wild” now and then, despite having encountered the inevitable fallen branches, thick brambles, and poison ivy, "trusting my feet to find / firm ground beneath the flickering stars.” May we all do so, right up to what is—and is not—the end.


Running Wild

The great clock of your life is slowing down, and the small clocks run wild.

Stanley Kunitz

I am running again through the woods next to my childhood yard, my small legs dodging fallen branches, thick brambles, maybe even poison ivy, as I gallop through some summer’s sticky heat.

I am running like our small beagle Berry, named for wild blackberries, who dashed headlong into a tree upon our return from a treeless, sun-blind shore—and lived.

I am running wild although it’s darker now here in this new time zone where the hours grow hallow beneath the mirror of the moon— a moon inching further from the Earth each year.

A great clock ticks on the horizon, but small clocks pulse within me, giddy with urgency, as I dodge trees and leap streams, trusting my feet to find firm ground beneath the flickering stars.

© 2020 Penny Harter, from A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books, 2020).

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