i.m. CLAUDIA EMERSON (1957-2014)

We mourn the death of our friend and colleague Claudia Emerson, who could think with her heart, feel with her mind while kneading and turning words as only the best potter works clay.  She received the Pulitzer Prize and other honors but has nowhere near the number of readers her poems merit.  Shenandoah will offer a special feature on her work this winter.







Who would I show it to                — W. S. Merwin


IN BLACKWATER WOODS      — Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.








recent-meR. T. Smith has edited Shenandoah since 1995 and serves as Writer-in-Residence at Washington & Lee. His forthcoming books are Doves in Flight: 13 Fictions and Summoning Shades: New Poems, both due in 2017.