Michael Dana Gioia is an American poet and writer. Gioia also served as the Chairman of the federal arts agency the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He spent the first fifteen years of his career writing at night while working for General Foods Corporation. After his 1991 essay “Can Poetry Matter?” in the The Atlantic generated international attention, Gioia quit business to pursue writing full-time. Gioia has published four books of poetry and three volumes of literary criticism as well as opera libretti, song cycles, translations, and over two dozen literary anthologies.
Gioia is the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California where he now teaches. In December 2015 he became the California State Poet Laureate. He currently divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
I like this poem. I love the last two lines because I think them so often! (Should I be ashamed to admit that? ) But truthfully I was fascinated because I thought sure it was written by a woman! There was just something about the line, “To my surprise, you took my arm—“ Isn’t it always the guy that takes the gal’s arm? Then I reread it and thought, well heck! It never says it’s a gal! Maybe it was two guys. (rolls eyes… I love trying to figure poems out! LOL. 😀 Love listening to him read it as well.)
We stood on the rented patio
While the party went on inside.
You knew the groom from college.
I was a friend of the bride.
We hugged the brownstone wall behind us
To keep our dress clothes dry
And watched the sudden summer storm
Floodlit against the sky.
The rain was like a waterfall
Of brilliant beaded light,
Cool and silent as the stars
The storm hid from the night.
To my surprise, you took my arm-
A gesture you didn’t explain-
And we spoke in whispers, as if we two
Might imitate the rain.
Then suddenly the storm receded
As swiftly as it came.
The doors behind us opened up.
The hostess called your name.
I watched you merge into the group,
Aloof and yet polite.
We didn’t speak another word
Except to say goodnight.
Why does that evening’s memory
Return with this night’s storm-
A party twenty years ago,
Its disappointments warm?
There are so many might have beens,
What ifs that won’t stay buried,
Other cities, other jobs,
Strangers we might have married.
And memory insists on pining
For places it never went,
As if life would be happier
Just by being different.
Picture Credit: www.poetryfoundation.org