Take Heart 31 October 2012

Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in Culture

Take Heart 31 October 2012

A Conversation in Poetry

Edited and Introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate


This week’s column features Edward J. Reilly of Westbrook. In his moving poem, he is haunted by the rescue of an older brother in childhood.


Hands Reaching

by Edward J. Reilly


A young boy, I was primed

for climbing, eyeing the oats bin

and its top, a crosshatching of boards

flaked with end-of-year fragments

left over from the top’s

double duty as a hayloft.


I climbed and climbed, up the wooden

ladder, foot reaching gingerly for

the next step, hands gripping and

pulling, even a young boy’s weight heavy.

I made it and exulted, exulted


all too soon. There came a time

when getting down was even more vital

than climbing up. But that distance

multiplied looking down, and neither hands

nor feet could move me down that crawl.


So I called, and my brother answered,

years older, years taller, strong

shoulders and long arms stretching,

reaching my straining hands, my hands

in his, the rest of me coming naturally.


Years later my brother, in his quiet, dark

living room reached and fell,

his large, much older body tumbling

to the floor, silent on a carpet brown as hay,

leaving me nights I dream about long

arms reaching for a frightened boy



Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 by Edward J. Rielly. Reprinted from Ways of Looking: Poems of the Farm, Moon Pie Press, 2005, by permission of Edward J. Rielly. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.

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