The One Thing

For previous poetry books, I’ve typically selected a poem written decades or centuries ago by a poet no longer living. I love the way a good poem sounds fresh, how its undiminished strength grips my heart, regardless of when it was written. 

In 2023, I chose a poem by a poet who is very much alive, as vibrant as his poems: Pádraig Ó Tuama, the host of On Being’s Poetry Unbound.

“The One Thing” by Pádraig Ó Tuama

There must have been some other me, who
lived some other time, who realised
he knew the one thing that would save me.
And he must have found a little window,
opened it – and shouted through it –
that saving sound that saved me.
And he must have felt a failure, I am sure,
that other me, because he failed, he did, he didn’t
save me from the other things that beat me.
And he must have sat, like some sad god,
from sadder scriptures, and wept at all
he failed to do, he had so little time. And
all my life, I have been climbing up to little
windows – opening them – and saying
the one thing I can say:
thank you

Listen to Pádraig read the poem and comment on how it arrived:

The One Thing
Letterpress printed in a limited edition of 50
3.75″ x 6.25″ x .5″ (closed)
7.75″ x 6.25″ x .25″ (open)

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