Poem for a Thursday — “To a Milkweed” by Deborah Digges
Teach me to love what I’ve made and judgment
in that love.
Teach me your arrogance.
With each five-petaled horned flower teach me
how much blossoming matters
along roadsides, dry-
beds, these fields no longer cleared.
Teach me such patience at each turning, how
to live on nothing but will, its milky
to the others, though when its stem is broken,
bleeds. Teach me to
need the future,
and the past, that Indian summer.
Let me be tricked into believing
that by what moves in me I might be saved,
and hold to this. Hold
onto this until there’s wind enough.
in Cries of the Spirit, ed. Marilyn Sewell. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991, p. 159.
Deborah Digges grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, the sixth of ten children. Her poetry explores themes of family, nature, gender roles, and the complexities of being human. She taught for a number of years at Tuft’s University outside Boston. Digges authored four acclaimed volumes of poetry, including Vesper Sparrows (1986), which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize for a best first book of poetry. Her death by suicide in 2009 at the age of 59 deprived the world of a gifted voice. John Michaud of The New Yorker wrote, “She was the kind of writer whose work went deep into the lives of her readers.”