Return

blood-orange-moon

I always thought I’d return
one day, maybe after I’d finally

gotten things together
and had something to brag about,

some big story to tell—after
I’d made a name for myself and arrived.

Now it’s been 26 years
and of course I’ve nothing

much to show for it. A few
good gardens; the day I watched

a banana spider spin her web
from start to finish; that night

I spent sleepless and saw the moon
so large and orange and pretty

that I cried, wondering at it all;
a few lines of poetry strung out

on the pages of a life
still being written.

James Thurber: It takes away from the beauty of the flowers anyway

Humorist and cartoonist James Thurber, Dec. 8, 1894-Nov. 2, 1961. Very funny man. Famously bad eyesight. I appreciate the several levels of meaning in this bit of humor:

(Credit: Wiki Commons)
I passed all the other courses that I took at my University, but I could never pass botany. This was because all botany students had to spend several hours a week in a laboratory looking through a microscope at plant cells, and I could never see through a microscope. I never once saw a cell through a microscope. This used to enrage my instructor. He would wander around the laboratory pleased with the progress all the students were making in drawing the involved and, so I am told, interesting structure of flower cells, until he came to me. I would just be standing there. “I can’t see anything,” I would say. He would begin patiently enough, explaining how anybody can see through a microscope, but he would always end up in a fury, claiming that I could too see through a microscope but just pretended that I couldn’t. “It takes away from the beauty of flowers anyway,” I used to tell him. “We are not concerned with beauty in this course,” he would say. “We are concerned solely with what I may call the mechanics of flars.” “Well,” I’d say, “I can’t see anything.” “Try it just once again,” he’d say, and I would put my eye to the microscope and see nothing at all, except now and again a nebulous milky substance—a phenomenon of maladjustment. You were supposed to see a vivid, restless clockwork of sharply defined plant cells. “I see what looks like a lot of milk,” I would tell him. This, he claimed, was the result of my not having adjusted the microscope properly, so he would readjust it for me, or rather, for himself. And I would look again and see milk.

                                         –James Thurber, from My Life and Hard Times