I kind of fell off the Monday Morning Hearsay wagon for a while, but since I spent a few days last week at the Chesapeake Writers Conference it’s as good a time as any to get back on.

The conference was held at St. Mary’s College, on the St. Mary’s River in southern Maryland, home to two former state poet laureates: Michael Glaser and Lucille Clifton. The college abuts the archeological excavation of one of the earliest American settlements, St. Mary’s City, where Margaret Brent once made (and owned) her home. Cell phone service was iffy. I kayaked. One evening I sat playing around with my iPad on a patio listening to Latin jazz; on another, I sipped wine, ate popcorn and listened to Handel performed by a local orchestra and choral group. I got some writing done, some reading caught up on, and batteries recharged.

Participants at the conference elected one of three workshops: fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry. The poetry workshop was led by Elizabeth Arnold, a member of the University of Maryland’s Master of Fine Arts faculty. I really enjoyed it. So, for no reason other than to say thanks for a lovely and productive workshop, I feature a poem by Ms. Arnold this morning.

Heart Valve

They told me there’d be pain

so when I felt it,
sitting at my beat-up farm desk

that looks out glass doors

onto the browning garden—plain sparrows
bathing in the cube-shaped fountain

so violently they drain it,

the white-throats with their
wobbly two-note song

on the long way south still,

and our dogs
out like lights and almost

falling off their chairs

freed of the real-time for awhile
as time began for me

to swell, slow down, carry me out

of all this almost
to a where

about as strong a lure as love.

-Elizabeth Arnold, from Poetry (July/August 2010).

20120716-074453.jpg