My Personal Favorite: Jude Rittenhouse

Jude Rittenhouse

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

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After the Perseid Meteor Shower

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.                                                                                                                           –Mother Teresa

The end of summer; the end

of night shooting

her stars. Tossing them

toward us through galaxies and time

while we watched

with mouths and eyes open wide

as children

delighted by the Fourth of July. Flags

waving, our chests swelling

with pride. Night

after night, thousands of meteors

dove into their dying like Palestinians

and Israelis. Like Afghanis and Iraqis.

Like those people September eleventh

in buildings and planes. Shedding

their skin. Relinquishing

time. So all the children watching

might finally see

how each of us blazes a singular trail

made of darkness and light. How

we’re all falling

through this same abiding night.

“After the Perseid Meteor Shower” is a perennial favorite of mine because it is brief, yet vast, and it emerged from creation’s cauldron almost fully-formed. It presences a most important truth and, in a gift-process that sometimes happens, it almost wrote itself: images presented and arranged themselves in a way that simply seemed obvious—no effort required.  

My husband lives and works in NYC during the week. 9/11 was a harrowing day of waiting to hear from him—waiting to learn that he was okay. Afterwards, despite the fact that we knew people who died that day, some family members in the Midwest, who were less directly affected, surprised us with their anger and desire to retaliate. I don’t know how this dichotomy moved inside me and shaped itself into words as it did, but I’m grateful to this poem for conveying powerful aspects of being human together, on this singular planet.

This poem was part of sequence that earned a finalist designation in the Pablo Neruda Award. It was originally published in Nimrod International Journal and is included in my book-length manuscript Languages of Light.

Biographical Information:

An award-winning poet, short-story writer, and creative non-fiction writer, Jude Rittenhouse is also a teacher, speaker, and holistic practitioner (M.A. Counseling, NKH).

Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Tiferet Journal, River Oak Review, Newport Review, plus many other literary magazines and anthologies, including Lay Bare the Canvas: New England Poets on Art. Writing awards include a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center, a First Place “Day of the Writer” Short Story Award, two Poets & Patrons of Chicago Poetry Awards, a Glimmer Train Press Poetry Award, and multiple Finalist Awards for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Tiferet Poetry Prize, plus a Finalist Award for the Tiferet Non-fiction Prize, among others. Books include Magician’s Daughter: From the Ashes (1995 poetry chapbook) and Living In Skin (2009 poetry chapbook). Two book-length poetry manuscripts, Gaia’s Daughters and Languages of Light, are submitted; a third, Beyond Time’s Tirades, is in progress.

She was a founding co-editor for the feminist literary magazine Moon Journal (archived in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College), and editor of Meeting The Grand Dame: The Journey Through Breast Cancer and Beyond (poetry by Joy Veaudry and Helen Quade), as well as The Ten Commandments for a Healthy Lifestyle (nonfiction by Dr. Perry Wolk-Weiss).

For over 25 years, she has helped people use their creativity to achieve positive change and growth. All of her work emerges from a commitment to deeper connection and greater wholeness.

3 comments

  1. Fabulous poem, poet, and history!

  2. Jude, your poetry is beautiful and elegant. Your text pulled me into the orbit of your thoughts and for a few moments, I was crossing the sky with Perseid. Thank you.

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