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Poetically Yours - Ep. 46 Rockford Poet Laureate Loses Focus While Writing

Christine Swanberg

A poem about one thing turning into something else.

Welcome to WNIJ’s Thanksgiving week Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week’s poem is by Rockford’s first poet laureate Christine Swanberg.

Swanberg’s published works span over several decades. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies and journals like Beloit Poetry Journal, Louisville Review, Spoon River and Earth Blessings.

Swanberg has also written several books. A couple include Invisible String published in 1990 and Wild Fruition: Sonnets, Spells, and Other Incantations, in 2017.

In addition to her many published works, Swanberg is a recipient of Rockford Area Arts Council grants, the Mayor’s Award for Community Impact, YWCA’s Award for the Arts and many other accolades.Swanberg is retired but spent most of her career as a teacher. She’s taught Creative Writing, Speech, English and Communications. Over the years, Swanberg shared her talents by mentoring several successful writers. Today she writes about a thought that doesn’t come into fruition in her poem “Instead of Destiny.”

Destiny is the seed deep within the secret

revealed when colors and textures can be discerned

through the specked lens of time’s wide aperture.

of seeds, shapes, and textures,

how about those heirloom tomatoes?

Cheyenne black, golden pineapple,

fuzzy peach, green striped—

the bulbous and beautiful aborigines

of the farmer’s market.

Destiny arrives in slices—succulent

juicy glimpses of patterned purpose,

metered messages from whatever Mercury

you Tango with. This is just to say:

I have sliced the heirloom tomatoes

you bought at the farmer’s market today.

No need to forgive me.

There’s plenty left for you.

So sweet with just a little salt.

Destiny is like a secret heirloom

hiding in plain sight in the dark attic

you climb to one winter day.

You say, Oh my. What’s this?

I have the perfect place for you.

Oh my. I set out to write a poem about destiny.

The urgent heirloom tomatoes slivered in


First published THE ALLELUIA TREE, Puddin’head Press, 2012.

· Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.