I love this poem by our current poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.
I love the way we don’t quite know what it means, but do. How the lines leap and there are gaps between them. How the lines break. The poem does what a poem is supposed to do. It invokes the mystery. It allows us to experience the mystery.
I think it’s about growing older. I think it’s about dying to the false self and rising to the new—“I am not who I am either.” “To let go of our shame-bodies.”
It just goes right through me.
“La Canoa” means “canoe.”
It is late, it is time to leave. To let go
of the shame-bodies. To forget, most of all.
I’ve been waiting for you. Behind the masks.
Behind the sideshow, the national awards.
Names, too many to remember. One remains.
Your name. It has no true shape. It has
no rhyme or even letters. It lies here,
in these quiet waters, below and above,
inside and at the center of my eyes.
Please do not expect me to tell you.
I am not who I am either. It is time
to leave. It is late.
Juan Felipe Herrera