Whitman always says it best. Whatever it is, he says it best.
My dad and I just spoke about Whitman, and coincidentally, the next day, I got my copy of Leaves of Grass out of storage and I found a poem that I don’t remember reading, though I must have read it a dozen times. I wasn’t an exile before, so the poem didn’t speak to me.
My unpublished memoir Madness & Joy is named after a Whitman poem, and the same poem serves as the book’s epigraph, setting the theme.
Whitman’s poem “We Two, How Long we Were Fool’d” sets the theme for A Natural History of the Sky – my memoir of exile from 2015 to 2017 – an adventure and love story that begins with deportation from England under threat of arrest and ends at the Vatican at the end of a solo pilgrimage through Europe.
My husband and I have been married for two years now. I’ve been in exile for over two years at this point – 27 months – and we’re still forced to live apart.
Despite the trauma and the bitterness, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – my UK visa will most likely be approved within the next 4- 12 weeks. Whitman’s poem captures this double edged sword perfectly.
The vitriol in the title and the triumph in the poem.
Free verse celebrating freedom.
I’ve shortened his poem but he’ll forgive me.
We Two, How Long we Were Fooled
We two, how long we were fool’d
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home
again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.