She Came Late to Writing
She came late, her wheelchair hooked
to a Critikon, her smile still slightly there,
a bright red bandana tight around her head.
She wanted to talk about poems and poets.
She did not wish to talk about her family
in Africa, about her sweats, or being ill.
Maya Angelou she wanted to read, so we read.
Marge Piercy she wanted to read, so we read.
We did not talk about her family in Africa,
her sweats, or her illness. She wanted
to hear sounds of savannahs, rhythms
of rivers, and to write like the poets she loved.
So she wrote, shaping a world far away
from her twenty-one years, words welling
up from desire and deprivation,
from other poets who whispered to her
through the night. We did not talk about
her family in Africa, her sweats, or illness.
The last time I saw her, she was surrounded
by her family from Africa, her poems
on her cool blanket and bedside table,
smiling that broad smile, as though she had
just heard a favorite line of a favorite poem
and was in deep conversation with poets she loved.
Davi Walders’s poetry and prose have appeared in more than 200 anthologies and journals. Her collection on women’s resistance during WWII, Women Against Tyranny: Poems of Resistance During the Holocaust, was published by Clemson University Press. Other collections include Using Poetry in Therapeutic Settings published by The Vital Signs Poetry Project at NIH and its Children’s Inn. She developed the Vital Signs Project at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, for which she received Hadassah of Greater Washington’s Myrtle Wreath Award. Other awards include a Maryland Artist Grant in Poetry, an Alden B. Dow Creativity Fellowship, and fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale, and Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Her work has been read by Garrison Keillor on Writer’s Almanac, nominated for Pushcart Prizes, and choreographed and performed in New York City, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and elsewhere.