Vision Boards and Beyond: The Poetry of Julie Suk

Okay, so I’m the last person in America who hasn’t heard about Vision Boards.

Now that I’ve done a little internet digging, I see they’ve been all over Oprah for years. There are Vision Board classes, even Apps.

What can I say? I don’t get around much. At least not with what’s on TV. That’s part of my plan.

However, undaunted by the fact I’m a bit late to the fiesta here, I’ve been looking for images of older women, women I might like to be like or whose footsteps I’d like to follow, something to put on said “Vision Board” and not an image of a movie star, either.

Wow! Are they hard to find.

And then something wonderful happened. I clicked on my hometown newspaper — the Charlotte Observer — and there was an article (with a picture!) about a local poet — Julie Suk. Eighty-seven years old and still writing.

Not only is she writing, but writing what many critics (Galassi of the Paris Review to name one) consider to be the best poetry in America. And to top that, she really didn’t start publishing until she was in her fifties!

I’ve been digging into her poems the last week like someone starved. I had no idea how I longed to hear the voice of someone older, especially as I list into that territory myself.

Once I turned sixty, I started to feel a little like someone driving familiar roads in a dense, tule fog. Even the oncoming headlights — admonitions to “Live Your Best Life” or “Achieve Your Dreams” — blur in the grey cloud, blur and pass, as I try to move forward. I know I want to go somewhere, am going somewhere, but what guides me now? What path will lead to a vibrant old age?

And then I found Julie Suk’s poems.

Read her no matter what your age! She has a lot to tell us about both the light and dark of life.


When I held my first son,
how perfect he seemed.
Driving home late,
we would sing rounds
O how lovely is the evening
his head nodding to my lap.

Blessings on that third
of our lives spent in sleep,
the plots of the day
left dangling.

Once I drove by a woman
clinging to a viaduct’s ledge,
police, priest, and the curious
crowded below, the road
curving past into a benign
vista of cows and trees.

Blessings on those moments of reprieve
grabbed before dropping into nightmare.

How could my son fracture,
unaware of the split?
Ominous, the day I waited
on his porch, cake in hand
as if food could assuage
a mind reeling off.

Get out! Get out! The door slammed.
What I dread is a stand-off,
barricades, guns, police
with no choice but to shoot.

Blessings on the daughter
who ripens with a life
that turns us around again,
this time, we hope,
the helix of notes
descending in tune.

For a while we let pass
what Aeschylus said,
how at night
the pain that can’t forget
falls drop by drop
upon the heart.

The moon floats off,
the dog whimpers under the steps.
How lovely the evening
with a child on my lap,
a circle of us singing
heedless of the dark taking aim.

— The Dark Takes Aim, Autumn House Press, 2003
© by Julie Suk. Used with the permission of the poet.

Comments are closed.