Last night I couldn’t sleep. This morning, I was thumbing through a notebook, from 2004, and I found this poem by Elaine Sexton. I had copied it out without noting where I found it. On-line, I learned that it was first published in American Poetry Review.
Let’s thank our mistakes, let’s bless them
for their humanity, their terribly weak chins.
We should offer them our gratitude and admiration
for giving us our clefts and scarring us with
embarrassment, the hot flash of confession.
Thank you, transgressions! for making us so right
in our imperfections. Less flawed, we might have
turned away, feeling too fit, our desires looking
for better directions. Without them we might have
passed the place where one of us stood, watching
someone else walk away, and followed them,
while our perfect mistake walked straight towards us,
walked right into our cluttered, ordered lives
that could have been asleep, but instead
stayed up, all night, forgetting the pill,
the good book, the necessary eight hours,
and lay there — in the middle of the bed —
keeping the heart awake — open and stunned,
stunning. How unhappy perfection must be
over there on the shelf without a crack, without
this critical break — this falling — this sudden, thrilling draft.
To hear Elaine Sexton read this poem aloud, follow this link.