Sherry Chandler, Poet

Sherry Chandler, Poet
Sherry Chandler

I wrote my first poem when I was in the fourth grade. Not only wrote it. I read it aloud to the class. My teacher's praise was excessive but I didn't know that. I was hooked. But I didn't know how to be a poet. And the more I studied, the more I became convinced that a farm girl from Kentucky couldn't aspire to be a poet. After all, I didn't have anything profound to say to the world.

So I became a wife, a mother, a career woman and it wasn't until I hit 40 that I started to realize that poetry is not about the message. It's about language. It isn't about imparting wisdom. It's about discovery. I would alter E. M. Forster's famous words, "How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?"

How can I know who I am until I see where language takes me. And read it out loud to an audience.

Elegy for an Early Memory

It's not the first - that one
was about a man reading
in a cane-bottom chair by the light
of a coal-oil lamp. This one
is about that same man's fists,
his dancing feet, his flask.

Dancing and fighting, bourbon
and blood. Why they all
went together was the knot
of a problem I could not
untie, so like a conqueror
I cut it. I don't dance.

I chose the example of the man
reading in the lamplight.
Apollo, not Dionysos
you might say, if you say
that kind of thing. My Daddy
served both gods. I chose one.

Do I regret that choice?
Only when the moonlight
dapples through midsummer trees,
foxes dart in the shadows,
and Daddy dances.

Originally appeared in Motif 2: Come What May, an Anthology of Writings about Chance (MotesBooks, 2010). Reprinted in Small Batch: An Anthology of Bourbon-Related Poetry (Two of Cups Press, 2013)

Design by Terry Kanago

Copyright Sherry Chandler, 2013