My latest post over at ExponentBlog.
Ah, this one so adroitly expresses that blanket of guilt that descends on days when everything is so good and I know that there are others who suffer…So, my apologies…
Under One Small Star
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minutes to those who cry from
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep
today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional
thread from your train.
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and
I know I won’t be justfied as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.
If you find yourself sitting at your laptop watcing a movie that netflicks accidentally sent to you and you are shaking your head at the interminable squeak coming from GameBoy’s new rock polisher oh, only 20 days of polishing until the stones are ready, you say?, and John has just baked sugar cookies chock-full of hydrogenated oils with shards of sugar glistening glistening on their white tops, and tobycat just let you kiss her head three times before she closed her eyes and fell back asleep. If you happened to have had nearly everything go right today at your prosthetist’s appointment, and you came home walking on your own two feet again never mind that your knee still isn’t fixed yet, and the rain fell and the wind blew and today is your last day of catsitting the wobbly-footed swirly mancat who lives next door. If this is you, then you will be delighted to come across this poem:
Life, you’re beautiful (I say)
you just couldn’t get more fecund,
more befrogged or nighingaily,
more anthillful or sproutspouting.
I’m trying to court life’s favor,
to get into its good graces,
to anticipate its whims.
I’m always the first to bow,
always there where it can see me…
~from “Allegro Ma Non Troppo” by Wislawa Szymborska
1) Going to the beach on Christmas is not a novel idea. Big Corona Beach was more crowded than in the height of the summer. With LOTS of tourists. Bleh.
2) Heading down PCH a ways to Crystal Cove State Park is a much better choice. Plus they don’t have a ranger charging $10/car on Christmas Day. Cool.
3) The downside of CCSP: the 1/2 mile hike, mostly downhill, through nature to get to the beach. I was on crutches because my new prosthesis isn’t yet completed. Yah. So 1/2 mile (each way) on the armpits is pretty raw (though it’s a fine way of working off the Christmas calories)…
4) The water is just was just as cold/warm on Christmas as it was in mid-summer. Lovely. Just lovely.
5) Hiking back to the car just as the sun was dropping out of sight on the horizon. The native desert-y plants all around us exuding the most lovely scent–like cinnamon and vanilla and lemon. Wow. Unlike anything I’ve smelled before.
6) We’ve got to do this again next year. And the next. And the next.
Click on the photo above to see more pics from our beach day.
So what’s a girl to do when the other three members of her family decide that the very coolest way to spend the Saturday before Christmas is to hook up a projector to a DVD player and watch all three episodes of The Lord of the Rings back-to-back?
And can I just say how mystified I am that they were all THRILLED by the prospect of more than 11 hours of staring into Frodo’s freaky blue eyes? Yah.
I was done after about an hour. Because I know how it ends. And that’s enough for me. No need to re-hash the entire fate of the universe nor re-fight the battle with Sauron. :)
John‘s been trying to convince me that we should start celebrating solstice rather than Christmas–it’s his attempt to get us to open the gifts just a few days earlier. While I admire the sentiment, especially because I’m just as eager as he is to begin unwrapping, we’ll be waiting until the 25th. :)
So here’s a lovely poem from Deborah for the shortest day of the year. May it be a good one for each of you!
The Shortest Day
By Susan Cooper
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
|This video may appeal to those of you out there who have a fondness for the creatures of the wild west (or in this case, the Netherlands). Those of you who don’t, might just enjoy it, too.
-GameBoy’s holiday orchestra concert. His proud role as first chair of the cello section. His body swaying to the music and the dramatic flourish of his bow at the end of each song. What fervor! Yes, this is my little tap-dancing boy all grown up!
-Christmas cards from sorority sisters, college friends, new-this-year friends, and family. Seeing that we’re all getting just a bit older even though we’re still the same us
-listening to my new favorite podcast, the brief 5 min/day “Writer’s Almanac” by Garrison Keillor, as I wash the dishes by candlelight this morning because our power is out
-making gingerbread creations with Aunt Suz, Chris and Pete the dog yesterday evening. Wondering if there is any way that their masterpiece made it home to Riverside without a nibble from Pete or Chris
-the pumpkin scented candle burning in the kitchen right now. Yum!
-great-grandma’s toffee made by Uncle Dave and Aunt Autumn, sent all the way from North Carolina. Woohoo!
It seems that no one reads poetry much anymore. Poetry books don’t sell well, most contemporary poems seem trite or obtuse. But I often feel an overwhelming urge to write poems anyways–images just tumbling out of me and onto the page. I am rarely satisfied with my efforts, as these poems rarely say what I intend them to say. But I am determined to persist with poetry despite my challenges with it. So today I am posting a recent poem in celebration of Muriel Rukeyser’s birthday (ok, it was actually on Friday, but I think it still counts). As Muriel wrote in her book The Life of Poetry, “I wish to say that we will not be saved by poetry. But poetry is the type of the creation in which we may live and which will save us,” or to borrow an aphorism from Oprah, one thing I know for sure: poetry matters.
So below is a poem that I recently wrote for my monthly reading/writing group. It’s not necessarily profound, but I enjoyed writing it and I would like to share it with you. I would most like to know what your favorite lines/images/stanzas are. Thanks. :)
For two of me
I gave her my cold shoulder
which she took in her teeth
biting here and there, around the
tiny stitches of scar
we were on a knee
in adoration of a
rough patch, the burn
that never washed away
then the rounded weal,
with furrowed marks
of fruitful years
and a worthy song
a thin star there on
her bone-still spine,
lying down to sleep,
holy oil still damp there
deep in my hair
and her stepping strongly
along my way,
with mercy because
she will dream now.
Inspired by the text of Norma Farber’s poem (which follows), I asked my kids tonite how the Christmas story might be a bit different if there were three queens that visited Jesus rather than three Kings. CatGirl replied that the queens would’ve been more practical than the Kings, and would’ve given gifts that the baby could really use–like a cradle. I liked my daughter’s reply. I also really liked the thoughts in Farber’s poem, and while I’m a little sad that the Queens were late and had to leave early, there’s something in their practicality that’s more endearing than that of the Wise Men.
The Queens Came Late
The Queens came late, but the Queens were there
With gifts in their hands, and crowns in their hair.
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,
Following, yes, that guiding star.
They’d left their ladles, linens, looms.
Their children playing in nursery rooms,
And told their sitters: “Take charge! For this
Is a marvelous sight we must not miss!”
The Queens came late, but not too late
To see the animals small and great,
Feathered and furred, domestic and wild,
Gathered to gaze at a mother and child.
And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup with noodles too,
And a lingering, lasting cradle song
The Queens came late, and stayed not long,
For their thoughts already were straying far
Past manger and mother and guiding star
And child aglow as a morning sun
Toward home, and children, and chores undone.
By Norma Farber
[Note: I encountered this poem as it was sung at a lovely concert today by the Orange County Women’s Chorus. Bravo to the OCWC for another stellar performance and for inspiring such thoughtfulness about the holiday season!]