Parlor

Parlor
The room was kept dark,
funereal silence only broken
by the hum of the fish tank filter.
A few bookshelves, lined with
Encyclopedia Britannica
and the latest children’s
books, the kind one might find
in a hospital waiting room,
all pulled invitingly close
to each shelf lip.
In one corner
a piano, never played,
now that she’s gone,
and the water in the fish tank
constantly drips
like the tears that wrinkle

the unread pages of your book.

———————–
Submitted to dVerse OpenLinkNight. A lot of good poetry happens over there tonight–type a few lines and send them in! 

Openings: A Glosa in Honor of Wendell Berry

This is a glosa, a poetry form that Sam Peralta has challenged us to write for dVerse Form For All night. He explains it well–essentially, it’s 4 stanzas, 10 lines each, the 6th, 9th, and 10th lines rhyming. And, most important, each last stanza line is taken from a cabeza, a 4-line heading that is borrowed from a favorite poet one wishes to honor. I’m pretty late getting this out, since I wasn’t sure I would have time today to read and comment. It could have turned out better (I was rushing! something I am opposed to in this poem!!), but it is something I can work with later on. 

Openings
I walk in openings
That when I’m dead will close.
Where the field sparrow sings
Will come the sweet wild rose.
            (Wendell Berry, Sabbath Poems, 1990, IV)
When I was younger
I liked to force my way
Through the woods. The most
Tangled path made me
Feel brave, lording my
Superior wits against Nature, cutting
My way through wildness.
Imagine my surprise, now
That I’m finding
I walk in openings,
Slowly, taking only those steps
Freely offered by the way.
It’s a different kind
Of bravery—non-combative,
Even doubtful. In openings
I am exposed,
Seeing and being seen
By things that live on
The shadow-boundary that’s imposed,
That when I’m dead will close.
And there is a
Hushed joy even in that
Which makes life
A hymn to limitation,
A song of surrender, like
The murmur of wave-rings
Circling out from a thrown stone.
The light rain has begun
To fall in the opening
Where the field sparrow sings
Her single trilled note
To the graying sky.
I am still. A single
Step would feel
Like blasphemy, like breaking
Faith with those
Whose lives are entwined
With mine, soon not to be.
Yet, after we all die and decompose

Will come the sweet wild rose.

Annie Dillard: Our Original Intent

(Photo: Three of my boys, fishing and looking)

I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it; he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why.

— Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Clowns are Freaking Scary

Paper regularly collects on my bookshelf. Articles I print out for later reading, birthday/holiday cards that I put aside for future disposal (just in case the giver happens to come by I can pretend to have saved their important well-wishes), time-sensitive mail that I fully intend to handle soon, school papers from the kids, and, best of all, artwork from the kids.

Yesterday I cleaned out my accumulation and found this drawing from one of my sons, probably dating from Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything scarier in my life.

It Is Enough

Anna got me thinking about willing, wishing, answering the call in her great post on dVerse Meeting the Bar. I put a few lines together, but nothing seemed to fit the prompt as well as this older poem, slightly reworked. My apologies to the few who may have already read this one. 

It Is Enough
I heard my share
of sermons, serving
time on straight-backed
pews, begrudging each
moment lost
                     to eternity.
My elders sat willingly           
in expectation
of heavenly reward, glad
to leave all worldly affairs,
glad to rest weary bones
if only for a moment.
They meant well.
I see that now, now
that my own bones
need rest, now that
I hope beyond all hope
to be free in the divine.
But we will never
decipher the mystery, try
as we might. Will we?
All we have from him
we already know,
written bold:
do not kill,
do not steal,
do unto others.
We stumble over what
we do not have: the
in-between-the-lines,
shrouded, incomprehensible,
written in sand, faint
markings that lead us
to belief or despair. I believe
it is enough to want
to believe. It is enough.