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Somewhere In the World
Linda Pastan


Somewhere in the world
something is happening
which will make its slow way here.

A cold front will come to destroy
the camellias, or perhaps it will be
a heat wave to scorch them.

A virus will move without passport
or papers to find me as I shake
a hand or kiss a cheek.

Somewhere a small quarrel
has begun, a few overheated words
ignite a conflagration,

and the smell of smoke
is on its way;
the smell of war.

Wherever I go I knock on wood—
on tabletops or tree trunks.
I rinse my hands over and over again.

I scan the newspapers
and invent alarm codes which are not
my husband’s birth date or my own.

But somewhere something is happening
against which there is no planning, only
those two aging conspirators, Hope and Luck.

From Traveling Light (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011).
This poem first appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 2007).
Used here with permission.


Linda Pastan (1932 – 2023) grew up in New York City, graduated from Radcliffe College, and received an MA from Brandeis University. Author of 15 volumes of poetry, two of which were finalists for the National Book Award, she served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1994 and, in 2003, won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Linda’s work often focused on the ordinary moments of life: domestic activities, familial relationships, aging, fear, loss…and dogs, which she loved.




Post New Comment:
So sorry that Linda Pastan has passed away. I enjoyed her appearance and poems years ago at the Dodge Poetry Festival, under the big tent at Waterloo Village. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised when she complimented the poems of one of my professors, Dr. Roland Flint.
Posted 07/28/2023 10:07 AM
Linda Pastan is one of my all-time favorite poets. I think I was 'introduced' to her here at YDP and am mighty grateful for that. I particularly like the poem Drift. Thank you.
Posted 02/27/2023 08:08 PM
One of my favorite poets.
Posted 02/26/2023 12:29 PM
I'm sorry to hear of her passing. Her poems speak so well to our daily lives and concerns. May she rest in poetic peace.
Posted 02/25/2023 03:57 PM
Wonderful poem! R.I.P Linda.
Posted 02/25/2023 02:05 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I'm going to miss Linda Pastan's wonderful wise words, especially those in this poem that we are not in control of our destiny. I feel blessed that she was on this earth ninety years. Favorite stanza: A cold front will come to destroy the camellias, or perhaps it will be a heat wave to scorch them.
Posted 02/25/2023 01:53 PM
Lori Levy:
Powerful poem. Sorry to hear she passed away.
Posted 02/25/2023 01:41 PM
Honest, observant, subtle. May she rest in peace.
Posted 02/25/2023 11:10 AM
Ron Stewart:
Linda, your words are magical, soft like writing with a feather, hard in the message they convey. Im sorry to hear of your passing, but I know that wherever you are now, you are loved and appreciated. Live Life Love Poetry Ron
Posted 02/25/2023 11:10 AM
Wilda Morris:
Yes, life is like that. It is sad that Linda Pastan is gone - that's life, too.
Posted 02/25/2023 09:48 AM
Oh, my. Linda Pastan, no longer on this Earth. Fine person, poet and poem.
Posted 02/25/2023 09:38 AM
Her carefully chosen words place me in this world.
Posted 02/25/2023 09:36 AM
Gilbert Allen:
When I read this fine poem, I remembered a conversation I had with Linda in the early 1990s. She'd been worried about her son driving a car without an airbag, and she'd just paid a small fortune to have one installed in it.
Posted 02/25/2023 09:13 AM
Wow, what a great and powerful, yet subtle and gentle creation that creeps up on us, making us think, causing both angst and appreciation. I don't want to rinse my hands off though after reading it. I like how it sticks to me. A nice tribute, Randy Mazie
Posted 02/25/2023 09:10 AM
Wonderful poem to kindle fond memories of a truly fine poet. "Somewhere" is filled with a poet's "pathos."
Posted 02/25/2023 08:58 AM
Oh, I'm sorry to hear of her death too! Hers was one of the few poetry books I bought as a young adult and I've always loved her work. I do hope this really won't be "one last poem" you publish from her!
Posted 02/25/2023 08:50 AM
Angela Hoffman:
Her words so fitting for the world we find ourselves in now.
Posted 02/25/2023 08:45 AM
Larry Schug:
A poem that certainly deserves a reincarnation. Thank you both to Linda for resubmitting it and to Jayne for publishing it.
Posted 02/25/2023 08:00 AM
Joan Luther:
Wise words that, thankfully, found their way to shine a new light
Posted 02/25/2023 06:37 AM

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