poem

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Today’s first moment of joy came on the bus, when a mom sat down with her glorious two-year-old son who started a five-way conversation in two languages.

I was on my way to have lunch with my mom–I’m always grateful to spend time with her even though I don’t spend nearly enough. And looking around today, I felt thankful for bodies, these mysterious machines that mostly keep us moving pretty well–despite any extra pounds and bad knees and knobby knuckles, bodies that keep working through time and fighting for us, doing their best against age and illness and plain gravity.

No photo today, and looking for poems, I found this one–a poem that is so much bigger than my quotidian day but too stunning not to share: Testimonial, by Rita Dove.

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This morning, the bald eagle perched on the lamppost above the highway. Traveling at 60 miles an hour, I looked as long as I could but did not attempt to take a picture. Seeing that enormous presence in the morning always feels like a blessing.

Later, restless from sitting too long at my desk and screen, I walked along the creek, and that too feels like a blessing. First, the walking, bad knee and all. Then the bridge with the water sliding under, the daily changes as plants bloom, as the rose hips start to swell fat and bright, as the water rises after rain and then falls low–so low in the drought year I worried it would not come back.

north creek from bridge

Sometimes, a heron. Today, only a small white fluff of a dog running, dragging a dusty red leash, a young woman stumbling to grasp it and stop him. Easy. I took a step to the left, and the pup was so surprised that he stopped. We laughed together as she picked up the leash.

Little moments like these.

For a poem, one of my favorites–yes, urban, and yet the fox is a wildness in Searching for Pittsburgh by Jack Gilbert.

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Lately, like this morning, the news weighs on me. I saw an advertisement for a 25-pound blanket that should help me sleep. The news sits on me like 25 pounds or more, and it does not comfort, does not help me sleep. I was thinking about the news while walking along the creek when through the branches I saw goslings!

goslings with lookout parent geese

It’s a bad photo, and goslings grow up to be geese, of which we have no shortage. But there’s something heart-catching and heart-healing about the sight of goslings—or ducklings, puppies, kittens, calves, foals, lambs, the babies we hold and burp and peek-a-boo.

For a poem, today’s is Eating the Avocado, by Carrie Fountain.

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When the back yard was a riot of roses, the honeysuckle was shadowed over, barely a bloom each year, one withered vine barely winding its escape from the thorny canes. But my daughter cut those roses out mostly, and with all that new sun, the honeysuckle sweetly surges. It’s a good reminder: Sometimes we need a little more light.

honeysuckle blooming

I’ve been feeling like I need more light–even in these gloriously long days. I thought of when I used to post a weekly gratitude journal, and it seemed a good practice to return to. Not just the private morning gratitude in my journals, but a thankfulness shared. Daily, if I can do it. One small thing, maybe with a photo, maybe a link to a poem.

Today, it’s the honeysuckle blooming. And the poem is The Daylight is Huge, by Amy MacLennan.

What’s brought you joy today?

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words all over the pageWhen a friend suggested writing a poem a day for 100 days, starting on inauguration day, I signed on. By day 30, I thought, “How am I ever going to do this?” Just after the 50-day mark, I missed four days. But I ended up with 96 poems and I use the term loosely–sometimes the poems were just a few lines. One was only one line.

Usually I spent about an hour. (Let’s call them all drafts of poems.) Sometimes much less. A couple of times, just an exercise. Once, I hauled out the art supplies. For me, it wasn’t about making great art, but about showing up. My practice. Now I wish I had been more rigorous about showing up at the same time every day–to get the initial writing down so it could sit, rise, rest until later in the day when I would attempt to shape it into something. Even as I write this, I know that some days I was waiting until later, hoping for some inspiration, some about for the writing. I think of William Stafford sitting down each morning, confident that a poem would arrive. He was open and ready for it, and he waited. I, on the other hand, met most mornings saying “I’m so tired,” or dashing off to work.

I haven’t written since, which is kind of scary. But I will, maybe today. (Get back on the horse!)

Anyway, all that writing gave me poems to work on for school, and I just sent off my final packet for this first year. Other poems I just sent out into the world to see what would happen. And I thought I’d share a few of them here. I mentioned the one-sentence poem, and here it is:

To the Rain

Stop, and watch the green glisten.

 

How do you get the practice of poetry, or any art, into your life every day?

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