Janet Poland

1994 Poet Laureate

For Janet Poland, poetry is a natural outgrowth of a life devoted to language. For many years, she was a newspaper reporter and editor at the Bucks County Courier Times and other papers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer. She has published seven books on child development, taught composition, and worked as an editor at a medical publishing company. Now she concentrates on fiction and poetry; she was the 2012 winner of the Robert Fraser Open Poetry Competition. Her poems reflect her wide-ranging interests, which include fractal geometry, architecture, hamsters, theology, and anthracite coal mining. She and her husband live on an old farm near Dolington, Pennsylvania, with an assortment of livestock. They have two grown sons. She enjoys gardening, and takes considerable pride in the second-place ribbon she won at a recent Grange Fair in the “Largest Potato” category.

Lines Composed Above the Observatory at Kitt Peak

Perhaps you came because
you knew he could not speak,
could no longer argue;
knew the dark cells
had rearranged his words, stored some behind glass,
close, but beyond his reach,
left others out, disordered, underfoot;
knew at last he could no longer win
on every point but faith.

He saw the heavens his way,
through a lens of his own design,
and sometimes from the middle air
he saw most clearly,
towed aloft, released to ride
the thermals in between the hot red earth
and the cool and everlasting sky,
as on that final flight, ash to dust,
the softest of all descents,
for a moment, he rose.