What better way to start the week (and this blog) than with poetry? When I was fifteen, my mother’s best friend took me to a bookstore and let me select any book I wanted as a gift, and I had the good fortune to come across the humble and little-known anthology Fifty Years of American Poetry. I found this poem in that book, and it became a favorite of mine and of my father’s. It took a bit of digging to learn more about the poet, Laura Crafton Gilpin. She was a nurse, patient advocate, and poet who published two books, the first of which won a Walt Whitman Award. She was one of the first staff members of Planetree, an organization that helps hospitals implement patient-centered care models. She died of brain cancer in 2007 at the age of fifty-six.
The Two-Headed Calf
Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.
But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.
— Laura Gilpin