Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work


A wicker basket in summer.
Back in New Haven in the old house on the hill with Kitty.  Like I never left.  Like I'm still gone. Both all at once.

Last night, I went to a Fair Haven Heights Community Meeting at Jepson Elementary that was organized by our Alderwoman.  The District police started the meeting off with a report on their efforts to control ATVs and drug sales. Good luck with that my friends. Neighbors of all stars and stripes raised their hands to share their relevant and irrelevant thoughts.  Special guest Senator Looney (yes, that's his real name) brought us up to date about what went on in the State Assembly this year, mostly economic recovery stuff.  I lingered after the meeting talking to neighbors and got a chance to thank Looney personally for his leadership on the Death Penalty Reform bill this year. He did our State proud with that one.

It was a really fun night, but when I got into my car, a wave of sadness rushed over me. Morriña, which refers specifically to homesickness for Galicia, to be exact. I thought about the Asociación de Veciños Pontepedriña and the friends that I met there doing bollillos and practicing English. I wished Alfonso and Gema were there to meet the folks of Fair Haven and discuss the shared problems that our communities face. I wished I didn't have to give up that community in order to live in this one.

And so, like Katie & Hubbell, I remember the way we were.  When Adrienne Rich died last March, I brought some of her poetry to the Pontepedriña English conversation group. Her famous poem, Diving Into The Wreck, and a lesser known piece about summer, Holidays, that I have included below. I really love this poem. Sitting in Santiago on that dark, rainy night, the summer scene seemed so vivid yet, at the same time, impossibly distant. Still, I knew it would arrive and when it did, my time in Spain would be over. And so it has. Summer is, indeed, another country.

“Holiday” by Adrienne Rich
Summer was another country, where the birds
Woke us at dawn among the dripping leaves
And lent to all our fêtes their sweet approval.
The touch of air on flesh was lighter, keener,
The senses flourished like a laden tree
Whose every gesture finishes in a flower.
In those unwardened provinces we dined
From wicker baskets by a green canal,
Staining our lips with peach and nectarine,
Slapping at golden wasps. And when we kissed,
Tasting that sunlit juice, the landscape folded
Into our clasp, and not a breath recalled
The long walk back to winter, leagues away.