Imagine you wake up
with a second chance:
The blue jay hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands,
spreading glorious shade.
If you don’t look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits –
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open to a blank page.
Come on, shake a leg!
You’ll never know who’s down there,
frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.
Imagine you wake up
The bi-fold doors open.
We spill out of the train into the underground tunnel at Grand Central. It’s Monday morning.
I’m walking briskly in a free lane. Not exactly free. Under foot is a yellow warning strip, with hundreds of half-moons of steel affixed to the two-foot corrugated shoulder on a highway warning of trouble. My eyes bob ahead and down, wary, looking to avoid toppling down eight feet onto the empty tracks. Livin‘ la Vida Loca.
I bear down on a commuter who is ambling along. Buddy, move left. I’m on his heals. Compressed air is released from the lungs, the Jake brake is pulled, the exhaust valves fly open, the big rig vibrates, rattles and slows.
He has thick soles, black lace-up orthopedic shoes. He is limping badly. Vet? Amputee? Back injury? I cannot pass him on my left, commuters are thick.
And then it comes. A memory, smoke grasped… [Read more…]
Even through curtains,
the sun will assert itself enough to soften a candle,
its warmth insistent as a kiss till the candle bends back.
We all fall under the spell of the sun
and are all at the end bent and consumed.
See how a long row of fence posts
leans over a deeply cut road
as if they’d been pushed by the light.
~ Ted Kooser, November. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book
After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?
I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.
~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times
Image: The Economist
In 1870, Emily Dickinson was said to describe poetry this way:
“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”
And, then you read a book, that does exactly that.
There are so many people who’ve come before us,
arrows and wagon wheels, obsidian tools, buffalo.
Look out at the meadow, you can almost see them,
generations dissolved in the bluegrass and hay.
I want to try and be terrific.
Even for an hour.