Poetry & Words

MY LIFE IN PHOTOS :: “I woke up this morning, as the blues singers like to boast…”

Toddler in fluorescent pink dress sitting in a mini IKEA Poang chair“I woke up this morning,
as the blues singers like to boast….
Everything seemed more life-size than usual.
Light in the shape of windows
hung on the walls next to the paintings
of birds and horses, flowers and fish.
…I closed the door to that room
and stood for a moment in the kitchen,
taking in the silvery toaster, the bowl of lemons,
and the white cat, looking as if
he had just finished his autobiography.”
-Billy Collins, from the poem “The Literary Life”

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Christmas, Poetry & Words

CHRISTMAS :: It is as if Infancy were the Whole of Incarnation (Lucy Shaw)

I first read this poem years ago. Lucy Shaw’s powerful words have stayed with me, a reminder to look up from the cradle and worship the risen King, who we are celebrating today.

Merry Christmas, friends! He was born so we could live.

“One time of the year
the new-born child
is everywhere,
planted in madonnas’ arms
hay mows, stables
in palaces or farms,
or quaintly, under snowed gables,
gothic angular or baroque plump,
naked or elaborately swathed,
encircled by Della Robia wreaths,
garnished with whimsical
partridges and pears,
drummers and drums,
lit by oversize stars,
partnered with lambs,
peace doves, sugar plums,
bells, plastic camels in sets of three
as if these were what we need
for eternity.

But Jesus the Man is not to be seen.
We are too wary, these days,
of beards and sandalled feet.

Yet if we celebrate, let it be
that he
has invaded our lives with purpose,
striding over our picturesque traditions,
our shallow sentiment,
overturning our cash registers,
wielding his peace like a sword,
rescuing us into reality
demanding much more
than the milk and the softness
and the mothers warmth
of the baby in the storefront creche,
(only the Man would ask
all, of each of us)
reaching out
always, urgently, with strong
effective love
(only the Man would give
his life and live
again for love of us).

Oh come, let us adore him-
Christ–the Lord.”
Lucy Shaw

Poetry & Words

between the way the sunlight fell to earth

Striped Curtains

between the way the sunlight fell to earth,
this afternoon, and
between the way it rose yesterday morning,
i can feel how it was to collect drops of sun
for years
the way i did
before they finally settled
into my heart, like a quiet pool of sun and shadows
of rain and things we forgot.

tonight, like the glassine pool,
the house is quiet, settled. there are no swinging
doors, no shutters to creak in the wind
— no wind, in fact
and nothing of mystery, shrouded
but there is
peace

in every corner, settled,
elevating the dust bunnies to some higher, almost celestial plane.
i am surprised how the easily the words untwist and unwind, once i
scratch
the inaugural word out of the pen.

i would have expected something
more akin to the way a rusted pump handle
is sealed to itself, stubborn underneath
the chipping paint of a spring thaw
after a dozen years of unuse.

but here, tonight, in the november stillness the letters seem to
jump into place,
seem to alit the wick, as it were,
and flow like melted wax
and burn

almost,
nearly,
like the flame in the glass bowl

across the room.

Poetry & Words

“leaves gathering in the corners, lichen greening the high grey rocks”

white ceramic bowl holding three balls of yarn - green, light brown, and grey - next to a gold picture frame

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside–
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it’s all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles–
each a different height–
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt–
frog at the edge of a pond–
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches. -Billy Collins