Favorite Poems: “First Fall” by Maggie Smith
I first fell into Maggie Smith through “Good Bones,” a poem which went semi-viral, in so much as poetry goes viral in the age of sound-byte entertainment. “Good Bones” is worthy of it’s hype, packing an evocative, emotional punch in a very short piece, but today I want to talk about one of her other poems — “First Fall.”
Read the poem at The Poetry Foundation here.
“I’m your guide here.” — Maggie Smith, “First Fall”
I had my first and only child in 2014; it literally takes my breath away, thinking that he’s already eight years old. He was born in early December; I remember the muffled hush of snow en route to the hospital at 1 in the morning, and how the silence itself seemed to drown out the soft sound of the radio.
My introduction to parenthood started in the middle of the night, in the dark, in the cold. I would spend so many more nights sleepless, pacing the floorboards with my son, watching the sky gradually change color, heralding in so many silent winter mornings. I’d stand at the window and watch; snow settling on the branches, sunlight prisming through the icicles hanging from the gutters.
So much of the early days of parenthood was sharing quiet moments with my son, sleep-speaking to him, naming the world around him and showing him all the trappings of this thing we call life — snow and barren branches and the blue light of December mornings, the smell of fresh coffee and low growl of the snow plow turning down our street. Smith captures all of that so beautifully, just as she did in “Good Bones” — the idea of seeing the world differently because your child exists here, now. The desire to sell them the world. The responsibility of their existence, and the bones deep desire for them to enjoy it, for them to fall in love with this place they don’t know, and had never asked to be.
“I’m desperate for you
to love the world because I brought you here.”
— Maggie Smith, “First Fall”
Other favorites of mine, if you enjoyed this poem:
How Dark the Beginning, by Maggie Smith
What the Living Do, by Maria Howe
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