by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
I first discovered this poem back in 2016. I don't remember if it was after yet another mass shooting or after the presidential election, but in a time of sadness for me, this poem came along. You may have discovered it then, too. The Washington Post wrote an article about it - and its author, Maggie Smith, in 2016, calling it "the poem that captured the mood of a tumultuous year." (You can read the article here.
) And Public Radio International called it the "official poem of 2016." (You can read that article here.
) Anyway, this poem led me to discover the beautiful poetry of Maggie Smith. Her book Good Bones
was published in 2017, and it is a gorgeous tribute to motherhood. You can learn more about Maggie Smith and sample some of her poetry here
The poem Good Bones first appeared in the online literary journal Waxwing
in June 2016. It is also included in the author's book Good Bones
, published by Tupelo Press in 2017. Copyright Maggie Smith.