Reading Thomas Wolfe

by Jane Mary Curran

summer before college
with days on the farm
sprawled out
across hay fields
and heat,
dripping with time

and an old book
taken idly down
from the case
in the front room

Eugene Gant and
his ruined family
violent, voracious

through long days
and warm nights
I read about wildness
coming of age
with death the constant
ticking theme

my bedroom with its yellow walls
and open windows
crickets and night sounds
a moth captured
by the bedside light
smells rolling in
cut grass and dusty corn
filled with words
written by a man from his
need to be known
and I read,
waiting for my life to begin
wanting to leave
this liminal place
and there was Wolfe,
to get home.

Jane Mary Curran is a poet and spiritual director in Asheville, North Carolina. She lived her first life as a pianist and college professor, her second as a chaplain at hospice. Now in her third life, she returns to poetry as the essential stuff of living, fewer words and greater soul.

About Reading Thomas Wolfe—The pictures and displays in the visitors’ center of the Thomas Wolfe house in downtown Asheville reminded me of my first read of Look Homeward, Angel during the summer before I left for college, inspiring this poem about that pivotal summer.