Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Hands Reaching
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
This week’s column features Edward J. Reilly of Westbrook. In his moving poem, he is haunted by the rescue of an older brother in childhood.
Hands Reaching by Edward J. Reilly
A young boy, I was primed for climbing, eyeing the oats bin and its top, a crosshatching of boards flaked with end-of-year fragments left over from the top’s double duty as a hayloft.I climbed and climbed, up the wooden ladder, foot reaching gingerly for the next step, hands gripping and pulling, even a young boy’s weight heavy. I made it and exulted, exultedall to soon. There came a time when getting down was even more vital than climbing up. But that distance multiplied looking down, and neither hands nor feet could move me down that crawl.So I called, and my brother answered, years older, years taller, strong shoulders and long arms stretching, reaching my straining hands, my hands in his, the rest of me coming naturally.Years later my bother, in his quiet, dark living room reached and fell, his large, much older body tumbling to the floor, silent on a carpet brown as hay, leaving me nights I dream about long arms reaching for a frightened boy
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 by Edward J. Reilly. Reprinted from Ways of Looking: Poems of the Farm, Moon Pie Press, 2005, by permission of Edward J. Reilly. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at email@example.com or 207-228-8263.