Sunday, July 24, 2011

"The First Brights of Dawn"

There was a time I wrote poetry. I was younger then, and more optimistic, with eyes and a heart a little more open to the world and the wonders concealed there, quiet but visible and willing to be found with only the slightest of effort. I fell in love with poetry in college, casting aside bad, angst-riddled, self-consumed verse written late at night in coffee shops, surrounded by drunks and sad-smelling, grounded truck drivers in favor of more serious work, educated and with a sincere appreciation for the specifics world.

It has been a long time since I have written a poem but lately I have been listening to a great deal of them, purchasing audiobooks of poets reading their own works in voices that hold complete command of the turning of a line and the cadence of words, holding them like one holds a small bird openly in the palm of your hand, with a selfish desire to keep it––this precious, vibrant warmth––for yourself while wanting nothing more than to feel and see it pull itself forward into empty space, pausing a moment to taste gravity before defying it and leaping into the void. I listen to poems in rapt silence, each word stirring me, making me marvel at the poet's choice in the much the same way I marvel at clouds or the blackened silhouettes of mountains outlined by bursts of nighttime lightning. I hang and hold my breath and wonder at the talent and magic of such folk and wish only to walk with them through the worlds they inhabit, where things are more than them seem, infused with what they are and more importantly, with what they are not, so that they become real, as tangible and solid as a river stone, slippery but secure all at once.

I was listening to Mary Oliver last night, her voice worn and softened with age, brittle at the edges but comforting in its command and her confidence with the experience of all those walks she has taken through the wilds of her world. And then this morning, with Duncan in the early hours of this day, feeling his still-sleepy weight against my calf as we walked across the street to the tame green of the park, the bodies of the trees painted a safe red with the delicate brush of dawn, I wondered if the poet I yearned to be had died or was laying dormant somewhere in me, asleep and waiting, safe but impatient in the silence. I listened to the doves hidden among the mourning drape of the willow vines and inhaled the newness of this day and wondered what the poet in me could possibly say about them and why he hadn't spoken up.

And then Duncan tugged and looked up at me, eyebrows raised in silent question. I removed his leash and watched him pull loose of his tether, to gallop across the grass and thrust his face into its damp delight, skewing the soft hair––bed-rumpled and wild––of his long ears. My heart burst at the sight of his thoughtless joy, his disregard for what could have been and perhaps should have been. This moment was his and mine I suppose, too, for standing witness to it. And I no longer cared that I was not writing poems because Duncan has taught me how to live them.

Trying to Be Thoughtful in the First Brights of Dawn
 
I am thinking, or trying to think, about all the
imponderables for which we have
no answers, yet endless interest all the
range of our lives, and it's
 
good for the head no doubt to undertake such
meditation; Mystery, after all,
is God's other name, and deserves our
 
consideration surely.  But, but -
excuse me now, please; it's morning, heavenly bright,
and my irrepressible heart begs me to hurry on
into the next exquisite moment.
(Mary Oliver)


2 comments:

David said...

"... how to live them."

Yes.

MAXMOM IN SA said...

Ponder the cadence of this life...
Its ebbs,
Its flows
and take heart that your natural rhythm is the gift granted to you, in all its great mystery.
With care,
MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA
ps You truly are inspiring...reap the moment...carpe diem!