who is joyce sutphen:

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the Stars (2004), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, and First Words (2010). She has received a McKnight Artist Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and was named Minnesota's Poet Laureate in 2011.

These Few Precepts
I said to her, don't leave your life
scattered in boxes across the country,
don't slip away without tying down
the hatch, don't walk a mile out of
your way to avoid a crack, don't
worry about breaking your mother's
back. I'm sorry, I said that I was
stupid when I married; I'm sorry I
chose for right instead of love, for
truth instead of beauty. They aren't
always the same thing you know,
despite what Keats said. Don't try
to do it all alone, and if you fail,
think of how well you've failed
and how all you really need is a good
view of the sky or a bit of something
- a flower petal or speckled stone -
Held close enough for the eye to
drink it in, and remember, I said,
I'll always love you, no matter what.

Long ago, I settled on this piece of mind,
clearing a spot for memory, making a 
road so that the future could come and go,
building a house of possibility.
I came across the prairie with only
my wagonload of words, fragile stories
packed in sawdust. I had to learn how
to press a thought like seed into the ground;
I had to learn to speak with a hammer,
how to hit the nail straight on. When
I took up the reins behind the plow,
I felt the land, threading through me,
stitching me into place.