All gladness, dear Nelly, all light!
Paris to Stockholm. My dear Nelly,
After that which happened, the no-longer,
your father’s hand gripped through barbed wire
then let slip away, your lines still glow
cool as white roses in rain. Fellow survivor,
brother, remember the sudden flash
when we two first met, dazzling the lake?
You, a disbeliever, looked for cause;
I knew it was divine, and prayed
for that gold to come back, as a sign
that we may breathe again in smokeless air.
The fires you saw burn on in my mind;
not to have been there magnifies the flame.
For you, though, all that remains of horror
is language washed of horror. In your lines,
white stones, frost, doves, icelight, snowlight,
the lightbringers, star that listens to light.
And in your letter, whose lesson is indelible:
after great loss, language is survival —
the fizz of dark waves that crash white
against dull rocks, the secret source of light,
the sun through fog, our not unjoyful days.
Among her other honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and five Pushcart Prizes. About her poems, Harold Bloom has written, "Grace Schulman has developed into one of the permanent poets of her generation." Schulman is former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006.
Also by Grace Schulman (see all)
- Scallop Shell - May 24, 2022
- Letter from Paul Celan - February 25, 2022
- Confessions of a Nun - February 25, 2022