A Secret Life

I didn't go to church Sunday.  I just didn't.  Yes, yes, I know, do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together...I know.  But to say that means going to church on a Sunday, well, that'll have to be another post.  I spent the Sabbath morning reading poetry, a lot to myself and at least one piece aloud to my family.  I know folks who want to be sure they're doing something when Jesus comes back, work for the Lord is coming and all.  I want to be reading poetry when he returns.  I just do.

The poem here is one I read several times on Sunday.  It's by Stephen Dunn, titled A Secret Life.  I'm not going to comment about it...my encouragement is to read it a few times, let it simmer awhile, stew even, and see what gift it holds for you.  That's what I did.

Why you need to have one
is not much more mysterious than
why you don't say what you think
at the birth of an ugly baby.
Or, you've just made love
and feel you'd rather have been
in a dark booth where your partner
was nodding, whispering yes, yes,
you're brilliant.  The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that's unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you'd most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it's like a small fire
in a clearing, it's what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It's why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who'll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.


  1. You should enlighten your readers about the glory of the poem you read aloud to your family. I wish there was a way to incorporate sound effects. Your guffawing at the end (and throughout) made it twice as funny.

  2. Just going to try and read this again later and see if it still hit me the same way............

  3. Wow. And I thought I was the only one who had one.

  4. I agree with whimzie. Wow. This poem is like your blog ~ a keeper. Thank you for sharing.

  5. John, there is so much truth in the last four lines of this poem. I lost my best friend a few years ago - yes, the one I thought would never betray me - by sharing that "one thing" that I perhaps should have left out. Thanks for sharing.