Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Regeneration

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

In this week’s column, poet Carolyn Locke, from Troy, begins with a description of the starfish and ends with a poem in praise of love.

Regeneration by Carolyn Locke

                    for Gerry
I heard how the starfish learns the world
through touch, how its chemical sense
leads it to the mussel bed, how it feels
its way around crevices sucking soft bodies
from their shells. You can’t kill a starfish
in any usual way—chop one up
and it multiplies, filling the waters
with quintuples of spiny legs
reaching out from humped backs, and curling
around the deep purple shells on the rocky
bottom. Sometimes I think I know
what it is to know the world
through only the body. If I close my eyes,
I no longer feel where my body ends
and yours begins—
and I can believe your hands are mine
reaching for muscle,
a strange body becoming my own,
and in my ear an unfamiliar heartbeat
pumps new blood, breath no longer mine
doubles the lungs, my need
growing larger than what any body can hold
until there is only this way of knowing, this touch
that leads me, blind as the starfish,
to become what I cannot see.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Locke. Reprinted from Always this Falling, Maine Authors Publishing, 2010, by permission of Carolyn Locke. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.