Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Laughter
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
According to Stu Kestenbaum of Deer Isle, this week’s poem is about a special sort of laughter: “the snorting, uncontrollable, transcendent” kind “that visits us in childhood.”
Laughter by Stuart Kestenbaum
You know the kind of laughter when you laugh so hard and unexpectedly you can snort liquid right through your nose, like the soda you were drinking. That’s what happened to me with a milkshake when I was 11 years old and too worried for my own good. My uncle and I were swapping book jokes. “Have you read Tiger’s Revenge by Claude Balls?” he asks, which strikes me as so funny that I begin to laugh uncontrollably and milk is dripping from my nose almost like I’ve thrown up, but instead I feel incredibly light and happy. That’s the kind of laughter that even if you have been crying and heard someone else laughing, you would start to laugh. It spreads like a wind passing through leaves, it makes the bitter muscle of the heart unclench itself. Imagine, all this from only eight words from my uncle, and one of those a preposition with only two letters.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 Stuart Kestenbaum. Reprinted from House of Thanksgiving, Deerbrook Editions, 2003, by permission of Stuart Kestenbaum. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.