The Power of a Secret

I found this wooden box in a yard sale. It is perfect for secrets. You can put one in and leave it for someone else to discover. You can take one out and read someone else’s secret. You can put their secret back or you can carry it with you into the world.

Denise Levertov has a poem called “The Secret,” which is about two girls who find a secret in one of the poet’s works, and the poet can’t figure out what it is, but she says,

I love them   
for finding what   
I can’t find,

and for loving me   
for the line I wrote,   
and for forgetting it   

Secrets are powerful. We need them, and we sometimes need to share them. Secrets make for a rich inner life. Sometimes they make for unnecessary anxiety. Poetry, which is about the things that are hard to say, is often like a secret. So much is left unrevealed. So much is up to you, the reader, the one who is reading the poem, which means, you are the one holding the secret now.

We hold secrets of our fears of loneliness, of death, of abuse, of—why can’t he/she just like me—of what we crave and what we are ashamed of craving. Our secrets are about being human. And a poem—a really good poem—wants to tell you what that’s like, in all its beauty and ugliness and truth and tragedy and raw feeling.

Levertov’s poem praises the girls for “assuming there is such a secret, yes, / for that / most of all.” Love your secrets, even those–especially those– that you need to share.

There is great poetry in a secret.

–Shaun Perkins

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