This week’s poem, L.M. Turner’s “Practice, Practice…,” takes the form of instructions to a very precise and suspenseful process. I love this poem’s intimate imperative voice, and how it evokes both childhood and something of larger, more mysterious stakes.

Turner’s book of poetry, “Thoughts,” was published in 1964. During the political and social unrest of the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with Boston-area students to present poetry as a way of understanding the world and expressing themselves. More recently, she has been gathering together COVID-era poems that she wrote “at a time of zen isolation and reflection.” She lives in Biddeford.

Practice, Practice…
By L. M. Turner

Breathe quietly, a long, slow draw
of air,
Then, release, slowly, slowly in the dark,
so no-one can hear you
or find you.
Not even the enemy beyond the shed door
until you hear, “Olly, Olly Oxen all in free!”
Game over, you win!

Breathe, slowly quietly, gently, not disturbing
the imaginary rose petal on your upper lip
and drift into meditation until the room disappears
with everyone else in it.
You have arrived.

Breathe slowly, quietly, as this
is not a game.
The enemy is trying to find you and this game
is the ultimate.
No more practice.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Practice, Practice…,” copyright 2021 by L.M. Turner, appears by permission of the author.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: