Here is a poem from Back East, Poems by Michele Leavitt. Moon Pie Press, 2013:
An Anniversary Prayer
Don’t bring us gold, silk clothes, exotic scents,
But bring us what ashamed hearts call for
From their cribs of bone and discontents.
Bring us breath to blow away old anger.
Don’t bring us diamonds, furs, fine china plates,
But bring us what our stalled brains call for
From their barricaded, labyrinth estates.
Bring us time to find the exit door.
Don’t bring us anything that might outlast
His love or mine. We’re learning, only now,
A willingness to catch the chances cast
Our way, learning to admit our habits drown
Us. Bring us where the dying bird sings,
Still nearer to all temporary things.
“Bring us…still nearer to all temporary things.” All of Leavitt’s poems make that plea. Note how in this sonnet the first gifts she says she’d rather not have are the gifts the three kings brought to the christ-child. They’re gifts fit for a god. This poet never takes her eye off what separates men from gods: our mortality. We human beings are included among the “temporary things,” fallen, imperfect, ashamed of our failings. Leavitt isn’t about to waste a moment of her life trying to idealize anyone. Her poems insist on the imperfectability of people, and sing with an an open-hearted, vulnerable acceptance of people as we are. This book would make a perfect Christmas present.