Patti Tana at Sea


Sept. 19, 2011

My feast of poetry on this cruise included Patti Tana’s This Is Why You Flew Ten Thousand Miles. The ‘why’ refers to Lilliana, a girl adopted from China whose parents flew that long distance to bring her to a new home. The parents had prepared a home surrounded by love and decorated the nursery

Parents and prospective parents will go long distances to give birth, adopt, or foster a child. Then for a lifetime they will strive to protect and empower; to love and let go. Ten thousand miles or about ten thousand days may be what it takes to launch a child. She or he is still very much our child, no matter how long we live.

For a time we find ourselves in the sandwich generation when we have both children and elders for whom to care. Parenting is one way to learn the skills needed as parents and grandparents become increasingly frail and vulnerable. Our children may in turn have a chance to assist us in our later years.

Patti writes about living, loving, and “daughtering.” She writes of the delights of parenting and the despair of loss. Many of her poems are very sensual in nature.

I “met” Patti on the phone shortly after I repeated an error in a newsletter. The article had attributed her poem about a garden/gardening to Anonymous. The closing line, “That Patti, she was one hot tomato” did not refer to her demise but of her own wish for her personal legacy. At least that’s how I remember it several years later.

At any rate, Patti tracked me down and gave me a call to correct my mistake. “I’m not dead,” she told me. I enjoyed a delightful conversation with this New York Jewish poet who teaches as well as composes poems. I bought a couple of books from her and she sent me an extra. This Is Why You Flew Ten Thousand Miles, her latest publication at the time, became part of my collection. I loved it so well I bought a second copy for a friend who had adopted a Chinese daughter.

By the way, I also read a book of poems by Hafiz on this trip, but I think he will not call no matter what I say about his poetry!

Here’s a short poem by Hafiz:

The Happy Virus

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious –

So kiss me.

“The Happy Virus,” The Subject Tonight Is Love:
60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz, versions by Daniel Ladinsky
Pumpkin House Press, 1996, p. 40.

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3 responses »

      • Thank you, Kathleen.The title of the book I am writing poems for now is ALL I CAN GATHER & GIVE, from the last line of this poem:

        What Becomes

        You, you who spread your wings
        studded with stars nightly
        across the wide world,
        what becomes of your glory?

        The many-limbed oak
        framed by the hospital window
        spreads wide to gather the sky ––
        scatters seeds over the earth.

        I lie here birthing and dying
        in the serious business of blood
        my body open to
        all I can gather and give

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