Vicky Lettmann grew up in southeastern North Carolina near the Atlantic Ocean where she learned to love the taste of salt water and the smell of the tides. She created Turtle House Ink and publishedThe Beach, a collection of her poems with artwork by her mother, Ruth. For over thirty years, she taught writing and literature at North Hennepin Community College. She teaches writing workshops in Sanibel, Florida, where she and her husband, John, spend the winters.
Her writing has appeared in Twenty-six Minnesota Writers, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, and other publications. She is co-editor with Carol Roan of When Last on Mountain: The View from Writers over 50. She received an MFA in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of a Loft-McKnight Fellowship.
What Can Be Saved
With gentle firmness and tender acceptance Vicky Lettmann leads us through this series of poems that address time and change and what it means to age. Using a variety of forms and images, and gathering inspiration from a diversity of poets and writers Vicky explores the questions of what we can and want to hold onto.
Consolation attends regret, comfort attends grief, and throughout compassion attends loss. These poems consider and console with tempered honesty.
Once I thought I knew what was real.
It was outside my window.
Today leaves hang by a thread
on the maple tree by the path.
One yellow leaf is ready
in only moments to let go
and become another shape.
The trees change daily,
and the ground is littered with gold.
My mother paints only abstracts now.
She covers her canvas with charcoal powder,
paints in squares and circles
of aqua blue and canary yellow.
Send us your paintings, we say.
When this one arrived,
no one knew where to hang it.
The colors aren’t right for our walls.
After all these years, we still don’t understand.
In her last decade, forms are not what they seem
and the yellow and the blue and the charcoal
are now her sand and sea and death.
The leaf has let go, only a blur,
and blends into the yellow
below the stiff blacks of trunks.
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