Poets & Writers

A Poet a Day: Deborah Garrison

"She Thinks of Him on Her Birthday"

A Poet a Day: Deborah Garrison

During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.”
— Bill Moyers

Today we hear from poet Deborah Garrison.

“She Thinks of Him on Her Birthday”
by Deborah Garrison

It’s still winter,
and still I don’t know you
anymore, and you don’t know

me. But this morning I stand
in the kitchen with the illusion,
peeling a clementine. Each piece

snaps like the nickname for a girl,
the tinny bite it was
to be one once. Again I count

your daughters and find myself in the middle,
the waist of the hourglass,
endlessly passed through and passed through

but holding nothing, dismayed
by the grubby February sun
I was born under and the cheap pleasure

it gives the window. Yet I raise the shade
for it, and try not to feel it is wrong
to want spring, to be a season

further from you—not wrong to wish
for a hard rain, a hard wind
like one we sat out in together
or came in from together.

“She Thinks of Him on Her Birthday” by Deborah Garrison, from A Working Girl Can’t Win and other poems. © Random House, 1998.

Watch Bill’s full conversation with Deborah Garrison.

In this episode of Sounds of Poetry, Garrison tells Bill that poetry is about “trying to find a way to understand and describe the world that lifts you a little bit out of it, instead of just being in it and being lost.”

She finds marriage a fascinating subject to write about. “The way you can live with another person and know them so, so well, and yet, in another way, being different, separate people is being infinitely strange,” says Garrison.