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Reading “What You Missed that Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” by Brad Aaron Modlin



Poetry Lunch S4E7

Reading “What You Missed that Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” by Brad Aaron Modlin in Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó Tuama, W.W. Norton & Co.


Bit of a tearjerker unexpectedly, this one, made me feel all the things I’ve been trying to learn that I always think I should already know. Isn’t obvious to know how to feel at home, for instance? Took me more than thirty years and by way of the Olympic Mountains — wild spaces are where I first learned to feel safe. Alone.

And that you are enough? Just as you are? How to go to sleep not feeling like you failed the day because you couldn’t do more? The feeling always that you could have done better? If you’ve learned the keys to these please tell me. I have an inkling that actually doing less is a good way toward feeling more whole but wow do I struggle.

I have to say a huge thank you to Pádraig who has taught me much about being with poems and more than anything, affirmed that being with a poem, and feeling it, and expressing some of that feeling — that it’s more than plenty for working with poetry. That there’s not a more studied way you need to go about it. I’ve often felt shy about how I pick poems because it’s basically all on instinct. Gut reactions. Strong feelings—shock, awe, discomfort, wonder—these are what draw me in and keep me coming back to a particular poem or handful of lines. No education beyond many fortuitous conversations, and much reading, and much time alone.

Thanks for sharing in these poems with me! What do you feel you missed out on in your childhood? How are you making that up to yourself now?

Love and prayers to you while I peel potatoes and find time outside this holiday week.


Also a huge thank you to the whole Poetry Unbound team at The On Being Project because they are wonderful to work with as well as make wonderful work!


Link to purchase

Get the book here: Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World. Also, this book: Everyone at This Party Has Two Names, which is the book the poem came from originally.