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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Poem of the Week: That Terrible Weight


Today's Poem of the Week comes from yet another Maine poet, Elizabeth W. Garber, who asks us to reexamine the sense of wonder we bring to the holidays. It feels especially appropriate for a year when many of us may be celebrating in different ways, perhaps letting go of some traditions. Shall we search for gentle pleasures amidst the season?


Garber lives in Belfast and has published numerous books of poetry that are directly of and about Maine. You can request Pierced by the Seasons: Living a Life on the Coast of Maine from our catalog and explore other titles by this poet who helps us explore our land, our home, our feelings, and our senses.


However and whatever you celebrate, happy holidays from the Camden Public Library!



That Terrible Weight


There is a terrible weight that can settle in

over Christmas and leave it so saddened.

This siege of wanting

that squeezes out any joy.

A wanting no gift can ever fill,

an expectation no surprise can ever lift.


Can you feel it? There in your chest,

that heaviness that leaves the eyes weary.

And the mind that sad old accountant,

adding up the evidence, that no gift can ever balance out.

See, the voice says, affirming with a strange glee,

see, they never gave me what I wanted.

See, they never knew me.


And yet something can happen.

You could wake up at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning and

feel a simple happiness to be warm in your covers.

You could find the day weightless and simple.

You could look around, in slow motion, in wonder,

and it could feel so simply light, so simply a day.

You could watch your children open presents

and see they are content with what is simply enough.

You could realize in that moment

you don't need anyone to give you anything,

and when someone hands you a package

you could feel a gentle pleasure in being surprised.


And when the great swirl of snow begins,

layering the world in great drifting seas,

your 72 year old mother could give you

the best gift ever, to invite you all out to play.

You could bundle up against that stinging wind and

make snow angels and run into each other, laughing.

You could all venture down the dark path into the woods

singing "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my"

and your mother could sneak up behind you and

say, "Watch out for monkeys!" and you could realize this is the first time

you remember that she's played with you

since you were a little girl.


And later, you could climb into those freezing guest beds

with your almost teenaged daughter and you could both

shriek and squeal, "Oooohhh, cold cold cold,"

as your toes stretch into those icy sheets,

and you could laugh so much,

and your daughter could stretch her arms around you

so happy to be playing like a kid with her mom,

and sleep with her arms around you all night.


And you could suddenly see

that pearl that has been floating down

across the time of your entire life,

dropping toward your outstretched palm

all this time,

and you could receive such joy.


- Elizabeth Garber

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