Thursday, April 25, 2019

Negative Space by Heather Banks

Heather Banks

I received an e-mail appreciating my old poem What Unitarian Universalists Should Give Up for Lent if They Observe It, Which They Don’t, Most of Them.  It is always nice to get the old ego stroked from time to time.  Heather Banks described herself this way:

I am a recent UU, having wandered thru being a preacher’s kid (United Church of Christ), Episcopalian (twice), Presbyterian (twice), and Methodist (twice).  As some might say, what took me so long???

I too have a poem, Negative Space, from my second chapbook, Split Rail Fence (2014), that I have heard is being read at funerals, although I wrote it about leaving a townhouse I had lived in for 26 years (in suburban Maryland) and the park behind the house my son and I had visited all his life.  But the Shenandoah Valley (Harrisonburg) has its wonderful places, too!

A little internet digging turned up this brief bio from a 2013 Virginia writers’ symposium:

Born in Nebraska, Heather Banks began writing poems after reading Emily Dickinson. She moved to the Boston area at age 11 and published her first poem soon after. At Oberlin College, she majored in English and art; she also holds masters degrees in each. She taught high school English in Massachusetts and college English in Taiwan, Maryland, and at Howard University. “The other half” of her career was writing/editing for nonprofits, professional societies, the Smithsonian, National Institutes of Health, and government contractors, primarily in education and health fields. Her poems have appeared in small magazines such as Burnt Star, Dryad, and Sun & Moon as well two DC area anthologies. A featured regional poet at the South Central Modern Language Association in 1999, she has read at many venues in DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She published a chapbook, Still Life Without Pomegranate, in 2008. Now retired and living in Harrisonburg, VA, she is busier than ever.
I greatly admired her poem and am proud to share it here!

Negative Space 
Beneath the bushes,
a trail—
first a chipmunk,
then a snake,
turtle and cottontail, perhaps
have passed this way,
left a tunnel
big enough by now
a deer or person could pass by—
or not. 
When I’m gone,
I wonder
what shape I’ll leave
broken through the world’s branches
for others to see
or try to make
their own way through.
—Heather Banks

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