A Poem for Natalie

Poem CornerI received an unexpected original poem from a friend this week. I loved it. I’ll write more about it later, after I’ve had a chance to send a thank you note (or poem :-)) to my friend.

Natalie just got through a strenuous week of brainwork, with many tests and final projects due at the end of a trimester. Thus, when Bill and I came upon the “Poem Corner” at one of our neighborhood farmers markets this morning, we decided a poem was the perfect gift to give Natalie.

First, a little background. The loveliest of newspaper articles appeared in the Los Angeles Times in August, about Jacqueline Suskin who sets up a her manual typewriter at the Hollywood Farmers Market and displays her sign, “Poem Store.” People suggest their subject and price. A few minutes later, Jacqueline Suskin has written a poem. She says she thinks people ask for poems that help them understand their path or direction in life. “They want hope, or confidence, or they just need someone to see who they are.” Her first customer asked for a poem about “Heartbreak,” the kind that is about looking back at your life and thinking of all the places you didn’t go, the things you didn’t do. When Suskin read the poem, the customer wept and said, “That is exactly what I meant.” Here’s a link to the marvelous article:,0,6438656.htmlstory#axzz2lVih9fJA

It turns out, Topacio Althaus, our “Poem Corner” poet knows Suskin. We told her that Natalie was sleeping in after a week of late nights. She had worked hard. It had been a good trimester. We stepped away to buy apples, lettuce, garlic, leeks, and yams and returned to Topacio’s little table and Smith & Corona typewriter. She presented us with a little brown card and read her poem for Natalie:

On Finishing Finals

And with these finished obligations,

we can unfurl these new sensations.

The ones that present themselves as a ringing in of the new day a little later,

letting our eyes rest after our lids are heavy

with late nights and exam plights.

All so we can gather all this insight with our greatest fight.

Holding these new ideas in great measure as a hard earned prized possession,

learned through laborious lessons. That finally presents itself in the end as ample time,

letting it fill with our own rhyme.

–topacio althaus, november 23, 2013

When we got home, Natalie was up and about, refreshed after ten hours’ of sleep. We presented her with her poem, which she loved. It is now propped up on her desk next to the photograph of three girls who inspire her for her novel-in-progress.

Natalie's poem


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