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Weekly Poem: ‘The One Thing in Life’

By Gerald Stern

Wherever I go now I lie down on my own bed of straw
and bury my face in my own pillow.
I can stop in any city I want to
and pull the stiff blanket up to my chin.
It’s easy now, walking up a flight of carpeted stairs
and down a hall past the painted fire doors.
It’s easy bumping my knees on a rickety table
and bending down to a tiny sink.
There is a sweetness buried in my mind;
there is water with a small cave behind it;
there’s a mouth speaking Greek.
It is what I keep to myself, what I return to;
the one thing that no one else wanted.

Gerald Stern is the author of several collections of poetry and is the winner of numerous awards, including the National Book Award for “This Time: New and Selected Poems” (1998). He was recently given the 2012 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, awarded for the most distinguished book of poetry published in the preceding two years.

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