—for Stanley Kunitz
The poet was old, the age I am now,
and he swayed like the ancient Jews
I prayed with as a child. What I knew
of his work was stiff with study, slow
to open itself. But this was all new,
clear, a psalm felt in his sinews.
I saw that he smiled as he moved
and was moved, the poem still true
for him in the moment he spoke
it. Something found like a stone
in a ditch, discovered out of the blue
as he walked the usual way home.
Floyd Skloot’s Selected Poems: 1970-2005 (Tupelo Press, 2008) won a 2009 Pacific NW Booksellers Association Book Award. His sixth collection of new poems, The Snow’s Music, appeared from LSU Press in 2008, and a forthcoming collection is due from Tupelo Press in 2011. He received the 2004 PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction for his memoir, In the Shadow of Memory (University of Nebraska Press, 2003). His recent memoir, The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer’s Life, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2008. Skloot has won three Pushcart Prizes, a PEN USA Literary Award, an Independent Publishers Book Award, and two Oregon Book Awards.