EVENING NAP”, that’s the name of a poem that caught my eye.
Here, it’s almost light, a day dawning and I find that curiously
I want to play with words
like, following ‘dawning’, what better than a word like ‘yawning’,
and that led to this poem for any time of day or even evening:
“Nothing is as comfortable as this:
curled up like a cartoon cat, just awake
enough to know you are falling asleep in your clothes.
No need to make excuses about a busy day. With no itch
to scratch, nothing you’ve forgotten, why wonder
where skin ends and your warm, loose shirt begins.
Just this side of sleeping, fall
into the folds. A new wrinkle is the story of your day
written in grime on the ends of your cuffs.
You will dream the face that looks out from the curled fist
of your hand, the thumb opening and closing its lullaby mouth.
Roll over. Outside the flannel sky looks like
another comforter. You will sleep until morning.”
By ANNETTE BASALYGA, in her book, “Lifer”.
This is a thursday morning now, almost the weekend.
IT ALL BEGAN as I lay in bed wondering where the ants go
when it’s this cold. The earth feels so impenetrable.
Do the ants, like bears, hibernate? How do their colonies
continue to even exist!
Of the poets I know, who would consider this kind of question thoughtfully?
Who but BILLY COLLINS, the chronocler of the ordinary into extraordinary.
Or maybe vice versa.
Here is our poet in fine form:
“You know the brick path in back of the house,
the one you see from the kitchen window,
the one that bends around the far end of the garden
where all the yellow primroses are?
And you know how if you leave the path
and walk up into the woods you come
to a heap of rocks, probably pushed
down during the horrors of the Ice Age,
and a grove of tall hemlocks, dark green now
against the light brown fallen leaves?
And further on, you know
the small footbridge with the broken railing
and if you go beyond that you arrive
at the bottom of that sheep’s head hill?
Well, if you start climbing, and you
might have to grab hold of a sapling
when the going gets steep,
you will eventually come to a long stone
ridge with a border of pine trees
which is as high as you can go
and a good enough place to stop.
The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing beats of geese
driving overhead to some destination.
But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.
Still, let me know before you set out.
Come knock on my door
and I will walk with you as far as the garden
with one hand on your shoulder.
I will even watch after you and not turn back
to the house until you disappear
into the crowd of maple and ash,
leading up toward the hill,
piercing the ground with your stick.”
from the poem DIRECTIONS, in his book Sailing Alone Around the Room.
That poem does not answer my query, does it.
However, it takes me somewhere I needed to go
this morning when it may be warmer than yesterday.
Brrrrrrr ! Which book to warm me up as we go through
single digit temps in this darkness before the sun returns?
It surprised me that I went without forethought to a book that
I’d made a daily practice with two years ago. Not poetry purely,
but a richness of sketches and journal of her solitary seeking of
herself in the country away from all distraction:
TRUE NATUREAn Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude. by Barbara Bash.
Here’s an opening, for sure:
“For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called …
Then I walked outside.
Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as the pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.”
…..and then these words of Rumi came to her mind:
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the worlds touch. The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep.”
Bash writes of her sketches:
“I dipped my brush in gallons of sumi ink and pulled it across
yards and yards of paper.”