Stephen Ackerman

I Was Reading the Sunlight, I Was Planting the Words on this Page
June 21, 2021 Ackerman Stephen

I Was Reading the Sunlight, I Was Planting the Words on this Page


I know why Cicero says
that I need only a garden
and library to be happy.
He was a public man
with a private life and I was a public man
with a private life. Some of us
are writ large and others small.
Today I planted tarragon
and thyme in the small raised bed
of my garden, as Cicero
may have done in his time,
and peppers and tomatoes
and basil and oregano,
like Cicero, like Cicero,
with seed and dirt and sun.
There was, in the garden,
on a strawberry leaf, a white petal
from a cherry tree, a diaspora
of drifting petals in the air, a late snow,
airlifted from the neighbor’s yard.
The white petal upon inspection
proved to be a moth or butterfly,
but, if a moth, no less beautiful
for being a moth.
My son is young to be so old,
and I am old to be so young,
my hands in the dirt again
wondering how the late afternoon light
in April, barren with gold and green
innuendo, appeared to Cicero,
and whether the small white
butterfly appeared to him
in the Liri Valley in his century,
as it did to me in the Hudson Valley.

Stephen Ackerman’s debut poetry collection, Late Life, won the 2020 Gerald Cable Book Award and was published by Silverfish Review Press in August 2022.  Information about Late Life can be found at“While Another Dove Nude into the Breakers” is from a manuscript-in-progress, tentatively titled A Rain Oration. His poems have appeared in many print and online publications, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets 2010, Boulevard, Harper’s Magazine, Mudfish, Partisan Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Salamander, upstreet and Verse Daily.