Transformations - Poetry

Anna Chern: ‘Circle’ and ‘I Never Did’

Posted:  Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:30am

On this cold St. Patrick’s Day, find warmth in a pair of poems by Anna Chern.


A long sweeping stroll around the outside wall of the cemetery

Through metal gates and into the silence within

My son, tall and surefooted leads the way to a place he has never seen

To the resting place of a man he never knew.

How to find the oblong of marble baked by the sun, that July morning?

The tilt of heads and somber dress mask the memory of ever having been there

The place is strangely detached from the event and yet it was here

That we were twenty years ago without you, my son.


We tell stories.

We tell stories to make sense of our lives.

We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.

We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.

— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor

“Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.” — Henry Miller

Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at

Still he strides on looking sure and sweet, weaving through the ancient pathways

He motions to me from afar, his curly hair catching in the wind

I see the oblong now as clearly as I had then, though the gilding has worn off

We stand above the frayed ivy slowly smothering the stone, wiping his name away.

We are but wisps of smoke across the landscape.

I never did

I never did learn to tango

To shimmy or to pole dance

To pole-vault or to high-dive

Although I had a chance

(At the latter)

I never did learn to cream the butter and the sugar

Leaven and unleaven-I just left

To knit more than a patch of the patchwork

Or to learn which was the warp and which the weft

(At the loom)

I never did learn to rise late and turn in early

Tuck the sheets in and colour match the bedding

To pluck my eyebrows stoically

Not even for my wedding

(At the eleventh hour)

I never did learn to say thank you gracefully

When faced with a gorgeous gift

Nor to say goodbye willingly

Without causing my heart to shift

(At the same time)

I did learn to love you perfectly

To remember how your smile would light

And recall the exact feel of your beard on my fingers

When I woke up early after a long, late night

(At your side)

Anna Chern has lived and worked on three continents and speaks in many tongues. Born in New Delhi, transplanted to London, Paris and Canada in turns, she has grown to love the vagaries of the seasons in Maine and the slivers of sunshine. Her favorite place in Maine is any and every lake. She also loves South Carolina...and writing.