Poems that change our perceptions are everywhere you look, and one of the definitions of poetry might be that a poem freshens the world.
By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say “We loved the earth but could not stay.”
The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Ted Kooser
From my morning reading, a little re-visit to Ted Kooser’s slim and wise book. I love Kooser’s practicality and warmth; his wonderfully simple definition of what a poem can be, of what we might aim for when we’re writing. But oh, that ‘could not stay’…really, can I really not stay? It will never be enough.
We found this blackbird’s egg on the pavement as we walked to school one day last week. The Moose took it to pre-school and now it’s disappeared into T’s classroom. I wish I could let you hold it in your hands, feel how paper-thin that beautiful blue shell is, how it seems it would shatter at the lightest touch.
Then there was the afternoon the tiny froglets were hopping high and fast across the newly-mown lawn, green-brown tiddlywinks.
There was the morning after a migraine, when sometime before lunch my headache lifted leaving only its own shadow, and there was that feeling you have after a hangover, when the world is once again vivid and pure, and you can again participate in its wonders and yet you are still apart, still too fragile for the normal fray, and so there is time. Time, I found, to sit and built towers from the stacking cups for the Pip-Pop to knock over. Time to wash up slowly, stopping again and again to re-fill the watering can for the Moose, passing chalks out of the back door for when they’d finished playing.
Sometimes the world seems to freshen itself before our very eyes. But, yes, other times there are all those poems out there waiting to refresh it for us. Messages in a bottle saying ‘I loved the earth but could not stay.’ Strange how hard it is to remember this in the day to day of living, in the world of snatched text conversations with old friends, of quick looks at Feedly, at Pinterest. Strange when a poem would take minutes, involves only (only!) concentration and a moment’s thought. A freshening of the world that can colour a whole day. (This, of course, all a note to myself.)
I listened to this the other week & really enjoyed it. (The recording itself is a little annoying because it’s a live-recording of a seminar session and, at times, it’s hard to hear everything that’s going on.) Haiku seem a perfect example of a brief refreshing of the world. This is Bashō translated by Robert Hass.
felling a tree
and seeing the cut end –