I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

17 April 2017

Over Under Through

How to get by in a crisis

‘Just keep putting one foot
after the other,’ my Grandma said
often, while I was growing up,
her voice practical and calm....
She had already left this path

by the time, many years later, 
my shrink said the same, adding:
‘After a while, if you look back 
over your shoulder, you’ll find
you’ve travelled quite a long way.’

It’s good advice. I’ve proved that.
Still, while you’re putting those feet down,
what are you doing with your hands?
I don’t know about you – but me,
I’m writing poetry. Always. It’s what I do.

I could say it’s a light in darkness
to guide my steps. A rainbow
spanning a stormy sky. An eagle 
flying high, then gliding –
coasting on the wind currents.

I could say that. But it’s not the point.
No, think of it as a piece of knitting 
(repetitive patterns, comforting)
in an item you’re making, designed
to keep you warm when it’s finished.

Or think of it as the wooden spoon
you’re using to stir the soup,
after you’ve chopped up 
all the vegetables and put them 
into the pot. Soup that will feed you.

When there’s nothing you can do,
nowhere you can go, just keep on 
putting one foot after another. 
It’ll take you a long way. 
Meanwhile, keep your hands busy.

Written for day 17 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads': Over // Under // Through, about challenges and rising to challenges (or not). 


  1. are all grandmas sages? they certainly espouse words to live by

  2. You make great use of analogy in this poem, Rosemary, having added in turn, your own advice to Grandma's.

  3. My goodness this is soo wonderfully deep and wise!!❤️

  4. Crisis are usually unexpected. An unpleasent surprise, the puzzel is knocked from the table and then we much put it back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty, sometimes things can't be put back together. At that point I think just keep walking is the best advice one could get.

  5. Fantastic! I really love the idea of a poem being as comfortingly steady as knitting, or as nourishing as soup. One of my favourites, Rosemary.

    1. Funnily enough, I'm not fond of knitting – but to say 'crochet' just wouldn't have conveyed the same down-to-earth feeling. :)

  6. Wonderful. Brings to mind William Stafford's poem “The Way It Is"

    There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
    things that change. But it doesn’t change.
    People wonder about what you are pursuing.
    You have to explain about the thread.
    But it is hard for others to see.
    While you hold it you can’t get lost.
    Tragedies happen; people get hurt
    or die; and you suffer and get old.
    Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
    You don’t ever let go of the thread.

  7. Oh, Rosemary. This is wonderful. YOU are wonderful.
    So much truth to this line:
    Still, while you’re putting those feet down,
    what are you doing with your hands?

    And your answers - and the images of what poetry is, within - are perfect.

  8. There's a knitting - and purling (or pearling) aspect to this poem, it builds and reweaves and weaves again--really sweet and terrifically good advice too. Thanks. k.

    1. It actually is advice I come back to often when things get difficult.

  9. Marvelous... to keep our hands busy on things to keep us warm.

  10. Sage advice indeed

  11. my mom quotes Churchill. same vein ~

  12. Good advice this grandmother gave. And you filled in her blanks, keep the hands busy. My grandmother was my best friend when I was very young.

  13. Keep walking and keep working... such good advice

  14. "what do you do with your hands when your feet are moving...." that is a fair question, and this poem is brave in it's emotional honesty. Thanks for posting and viva la!


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