Physicist at the Mall by Janet Holmes
Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry (1993)
I was surprised by the talk of this traveler in the age of sometimes miracles. These poems are an intimate reading of the spinning globe in a taut and compelling language. Space shifts. I remember again how necessary poetry is in this landscape of a different age. The mall after all is an equation of love and sacrifice. We need Janet Holmes' vision, her brilliant tongue. -- Joy Harjo
If, like snakes or reptiles, we grew with years,
then imagine the huge elderly, slowed
with age and bulk, frequenting
delicatessens, libraries; crowding
laundromats; taking whole booths to themselves
in family restaurants. The ample bodies
of the long-married, ambling their constitutionals.
The memories, all of smaller times.
Regardless of our wisdom or kindness, faith
or virtue, regardless of our capacity
for loneliness or independence, we would each grow
larger and more splendid,
and, lying down, would dream again and again
of childhood-the narrow long road back
to the vanishing point-each new dream
permitting another to be forgotten.