Rodger LeGrand is a Puschart nominated poet and has several collections of poetry in print, including Various Ways of Thinking about the Universe (Finishing Line Press, 2005), Waking up on a Sinking Boat (Pudding House Press, 2008), Hope and Compulsion (Big Table, 2009), Millions of Ravenous Creatures (Big Table 2016), Seeds (Flutter Press 2017), Two Thirds Water (2018), and Studies for a Self Portrait (Big Table, 2019).
His work has been described by the late poet Thomas Lux as being “lighted by an almost excruciating tenderness towards the world and its inhabitants.” Stephen Dobyns has written that, “always there is a shuffling between clarity and mystery [in Rodger’s poetry], precision and ambiguity, humor and darkness as he works through the conundrums of how we live and how we might live better—not in terms of money, though that would be nice, but metaphysically, or, more simply, basic kindness in a world where kindness is too often a rarity.”
Rodger grew up in Upstate New York where he studied writing at the State University of New York at Oswego and received an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. He has taught at MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Arts, Temple University, and North Carolina State University. Currently, he designs humanitarian education courses for the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University.
Through the Glass
The first time she’ll see her son
from this angle—orange
jumpsuit, torn white sneakers
without laces, black eye. The C.O. takes
her to a booth, three walls, a window,
a small shelf with a green phone on it.
She wishes she could jump from the shelf
and fall past the clump of memories
that have clogged the valves of her heart–
labor pains, first birthday, when he
learned to ride a bike. A C.O. walks him in
and he sits looking at his fingers, chews
a hangnail. Can’t look at his mother.
His bruised face means one thing
and it makes her feel small
and the clump of memories shreds
through her arteries. It doesn’t matter
what he did to get here. She doesn’t
pick up the phone to talk to him.
She closes her eyes, presses
the palms of her hands
and the cheek of her face
against the thumb marked glass.
At some point last night
in a dream or awake
somewhere in between
I began to roam
I think I might have
dusted a little,
maybe run the vacuum.
And I cleaned out
needed to make room
for a sack of dreams
to store in the crisper
to keep them fresh
as long as possible,
since I no longer have the energy
to pretend they might become real.
After all this time
when I wake up
I can still feel your body
next to mine.