Featured Poet: Charles W. Pratt, Brentwood
Charles W. Pratt, a former English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy and elsewhere, has for the past 25 years with his wife Joan owned and operated Apple Annie, a small orchard in Brentwood. His first book of poems, In the Orchard (with drawings by Arthur Balderacchi, Tidal Press), was selected as a Notable Book for 1986 by the American Library Association; his chapbook Still Here, was recently named winner of the Finishing Line press open chapbook competition for 2007, and will be published late this summer. He has been the coordinator of the Selection Committee for the George Bennett Fellowship for many years, the Phillips Exeter writer-in-residency.
Of his featured poem, Charles writes:
“As is the case for most of my poems, the origin of this one is pretty self-evident, though I have conflated two places - the location of the glass front case and the location of sunset on the porch and the swimming. I often feel that I have little imagination; I'm not proud of that, but most of my poems come from my experience, and my art if there is art is in the telling. I don't recall why “Going undah now” came back to my mind last spring when I wrote the poem, but when the phrase surfaced it made me remember my aunt and her memory kept me writing.”
Holding My Breath
It was a favorite aunt who used to tell
How, when I learned to swim, I'd cry out
To the attendant angels on the float,
“Going undah now,” and disappear
For as long as I could hold my breath,
Then breach spouting: call me Moby Dick.
She's gone under now, and all her memories.
She won't come up at sunset on the porch
To suck the orange slice from her old-fashioned,
Or cross-stitch dresses for the German dolls
Ranged in a glass-front case for neighbor children --
She had none -- to visit. Where are they?
Bedtime. I pull the covers up and murmur
(So my attendant angel doesn't hear),
“Going undah now.”