Coming to That

Will you still be writing – or doing anything else – when you are 101?  Dorothea Tanning could be the world’s oldest living poet, and at 101 has just published a book of poetry – Coming to That.

A slim volume of 33 poems, this book of poetry is not a quick read.  Better to savor the words, reread the lines, make them personal, and wonder about the woman who writes with a laugh for the past and an eye to the future.

The title is based on the poem that invokes the line –

“If it comes to that,” he said, ” they’ll be no preventing it.”

Only a wise old woman could turn the phrase around and slap it back to the speaker – to make sure it would come to that.”

Some poems are nostalgic, but most leave the possibilities to the reader’s imagination.  Among my favorite lines:

from A Woman Waving to the Trees

Loungers on the benches

begin to notice.

On to another,

“Well, you see all kinds…”

Most of them sit looking

down at nothing as if there

was truly nothing else to

look at, until there is

that woman waving up

to the branching boughs

of these old trees.  Raise your

heads, pal, look high,

you may see more than

you ever thought possible,

up where something might

be waving back, to tell her

she has seen the marvelous.

from For Instance:

As everyone knows

dreams come true?

But you have to

dream them first.

Related Articlefrom The New Yorker: Dorothea Tanning’s Second Book of Poems