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Jeanie Greensfelder

From the deck of a cruise ship
leaving San Francisco, I gaze
at the Golden Gate Bridge, and try not
to imagine those who have jumped.
Wind pushes against me,
lets me know I’m going somewhere—
I wish I were wild, hopping a freighter
for the south seas and beyond.
While I long to be a pilot or a diver,
a climber or a surfer, or even a bartender
meeting and tending to travelers,
I’m grateful as I recall my journey:
What are you thankful for? a teacher asked.
Bubble gum and ice cream, I said.
I never knew I loved parents who called me in
when I wanted to play hide and seek till dawn.
At school I played jacks on the lunch table,
pig in a basket, putting pieces in my palm.
I never knew I loved the cafeteria line,
having hair-netted women fill my plate.
I never knew I loved bumblebees. Could one
love a bumblebee, the one that sat on
my belt buckle when I was alone in the yard
trying to be a statue, staring into its eyes?
I’m beyond feeling I didn’t belong in those
teen years when the world didn’t want me, and
left me in tears. Now, under the Golden Gate,
I feel for those who chose the bridge.
On this voyage, breathing sweet salt air,
I run with a butterfly net
catching and cataloging moments,
risking loving life to death.

© by Jeanie Greensfelder.
Used with the author’s permission.


Jeanie Greensfelder is the author of Biting the Apple (Penciled In, 2012) and Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith (Penciled In, 2015. Her poems have been featured on Writers’ Almanac and American Life in Poetry. A psychologist, Jeanie seeks to understand herself and others on this shared journey filled, as Joseph Campbell said, with sorrowful joys and joyful sorrows. Jeanie lives with her husband Andy in San Luis Obispo, California, where she volunteers as a bereavement counselor and where she has just been named as Poet Laureate for San Luis Obispo County for 2017 and 2018. Read more of her poems at





Post New Comment:
I've been keeping this poem as 'new' as I can't bear to see it go to 'old' mail; there's nothing 'old' about those feelings so eloquently expressed here. I agree with "Anne"; thanks so much ~ I love it. Judy
Posted 08/24/2013 10:18 PM
chris schulz:
The net, so symbolic of what the poet was able to capture and hold onto throughout the years and such a tragic contrast to those who had no safety net.
Posted 07/22/2013 08:09 PM
Anne Desmond:
This poem is a heartbreakingly, breathtakingly real voyage through the daily banalities of a lifetime. I feel awakened by every line. The wonderful repetitive rhythm of "I never knew . . " over and over, contrasts the child's view then, with the poet's knowing now. The refrain "I never knew" -- those three words -- quite magically -- simultaneously reference the past and the present. This is an ingeniously effective and subtle way for the poet, from the very beginning of the poem, to presage the change in herself over time. That change, expressed so vividly in the last line, has a redemptive quality. At the end of the poem it gives us relief and reward. Superb.
Posted 07/22/2013 04:53 PM
I love this beautiful poem.
Posted 07/22/2013 09:01 AM
Wilda Morris:
A richly poetic way of looking back and looking ahead while being "in the moment."
Posted 07/22/2013 09:00 AM
Great poem!! Love the last line most of all!
Posted 07/22/2013 08:41 AM
Posted 07/22/2013 08:38 AM
this will surely capture every reader's heart. Jane, I love your comments, the line you high-lighted, Yes! and oh, that last verse...gorgeous, gorgeous!
Posted 07/22/2013 07:56 AM
Memorable couplet: I never knew I loved the cafeteria line, having hair-netted women fill my plate.
Posted 07/22/2013 07:39 AM
What a lesson! Thank you, Jeanie.
Posted 07/22/2013 07:19 AM

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