UnknownApril is National Poetry Month in the United States. Time to recover a poem that you love, or memorized in 4th grade, or otherwise recently read in your Poetry Journal subscription – and put it to public speaking practice. Reading poetry out loud is an excellent way to play with cadence, emphasis, drama, emotion, ideas expressed. Digging into the text of someone else’s words can enrich your public address.

The following poem has been my companion for a few years. My three children are growing, becoming more independent and one has left for college. I am so grateful to poet Philip Booth for the distilled expression of what I feel so deeply.

First Lesson
Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you.
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
 and look high at the gulls.
A dead-
man’s float is face down.
You will dive
 and swim soon enough
where this tidewater 
ebbs to the sea.
Daughter, believe 
when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you 
and let go,
remember when fear 
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year 
lie back, and the sea will hold you.
Philip Booth

I recorded it should you also like to listen. First Lesson