XX

I do not abide that one
completes another;
for you are whole
                            in yourself,
as I am whole
                            in myself.

Even so, were I buried
a thousand years
deep in the limestone hills,
and you called out
my secret name,
                            I would rise to meet you.

My love, the wonder and the joy is this:
I fly higher when I fly
                            with you,
and our fires burn hotter when they burn
                            together.

©stephanie pepper, 2021


meeting

Meeting Wendell Berry at Transy, October 9, 2019. Photo by McRae Stephenson.

Last October I had the opportunity to go back to my alma mater, Transylvania University, for a reading honoring the founder of Larkspur Press, Gray Zeitz. Among those reading that night were Bobbie Ann Mason and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, but I had my eyes on only one poet–Wendell Berry. I was introduced to Berry’s writing many years ago, before I even read poetry let alone wrote poetry, by singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson at a church VBS picnic. When he found out that I–a proud Kentuckian–had never read Wendell Berry, he said I simply must. Properly chastised, I read Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter, two of Berry’s beautiful novels soon after, and while I knew he was a poet, I didn’t pick up a collection of his poetry for several more years (mostly out of my own weird notion that I just wasn’t a “poetry person”). When I began to read poetry about two years ago, Berry’s was some of the first work that I read. He hooked me as solidly with his poetry as he had with his prose, and I was a goner. I consider him to be one of the major influences on my poetry, but he hasn’t just influenced my writing. He has influenced the way I look at life, and living, and being human. And through his writing and living, how nature is as sacred a sanctuary as a church building.

Meeting him…it was an honor of the highest degree. I didn’t tell him that I am a writer; a poet. I fangirled. That’s ok.

poetry ghost

Green corduroy jacket
on a dark morning,
a girl embraced eternity.
“Peace, you’re not my prisoner,”
she said,
“and I am not yours.”
So sail soft, slow, baby,
on the porcelain ocean.
She’s a starless poetry ghost.

©stephanie g. pepper, 2020

(Another in the poetry challenge series from a couple of weeks ago that I have edited just a bit. This poem started as a Magnetic Poetry poem. I’ve edited slightly, but only added words from the original word choice selection I was given, with the exception of the word “jacket” and a few articles.)