Poem of the Week: Back to the Past
Amanda Gorman has captivated a large audience since stepping up to the mike with a powerful poem, "The Hill We Climb," at last January's presidential inauguration ceremony. When she published her first full collection of poetry, Call Us What We Carry, in December, not only did it receive universally top reviews, but it also achieved a rare feat for a poetry book in this day and age by immediately topping the New York Times bestseller list. The book seems to be willingly consumed by all ages and identities; it is unapologetic, both fervently hopeful and in full acknowledgment of the hard truths of reality. It is highly varied in form and content. More than anything, it is a book of unique voice and of the poet's (and our) present time, deeply rooted in the past but addressing the pandemic, identity both communal and individual, and much else about the contemporary moment. Her voice is fiercely her own and yet she often uses collective pronouns, as in the title. The book has ultimately been hailed as one of hope, and while it contains harrowing realities, below you will find "Back to the Past," which speaks with possibility of both past and future for us. Read on! As always, the poet's voice speaks best.
Back to the Past
At times even blessings will bleed us.
There are some who lost their lives & those who were lost from ours,
Who we might now reënter, All our someones summoned softly.
The closest we get to time travel Is our fears softening,
Our hurts unclenching, As we become more akin
To kin, as we return To who we were
Before we actually were Anything or anyone—
That is, when we were born unhating & unhindered, howling wetly
With everything we could yet become. To travel back in time is to remember
When all we knew of ourselves was love.
- Amanda Gorman