Cinema Verité

Linda Pastan Click to

The former Poet Laureate of Maryland, Linda Pastan has received the 2003 Ruth Lilly Award. Since her celebrated new and selected poems, Carnival Evening, she has published The Last Uncle (Norton, 2002), Queen of a Rainy Country (Norton, 2006) and Traveling Light (Norton, 2011). She has been a frequent contributor to Shenandoah and was three times nominated for the National Book Award.

 The movie I grew up in
was in black and white,
or sometimes in the sepia
memory tints things with.

The soundtrack was a Victrola
playing “I’ll Get By.”
The stars were a father
with his important mustache;

a maid in the kitchen shelling peas;
a mother who looked
a lot like me, but beautiful,
who wore serenity like a badge,

who scripted our lives
and never flubbed her lines.
Listen to the staccato music
high heels make as they move

down the polished hallways
of the past.  Absorb
the darkness of coal piled up
outside the house, smudging

what seem like mountains
of snow at the curb.  Today,
speeded up and in color,
my life flashes by in short takes:

a curtain of blue sky behind
the arc of a child on a swing;
the dogwoods dying one by one,
punctuating other losses;

the seductive rustle of pages
turning.  And as I settle
into my part, the final
credits start to roll.