Monday, January 20, 2014

on clarity and silence

   I have time now to sort thoughts. I lay awake at night and try to follow trails, threads, sort them in my mind so I can return to them later.
   I was driving home from a friend's house on one of the coldest nights of the winter and I passed the library. Snow was heaped against the windows and the Christmas wreaths were still up despite it being several weeks into January. But inside the orderly bookcases were flooded with warm light and I thought how much  I want that for my inward life.

Some days I don't know how to write this blog anymore. I wonder why I started writing and why I continued. I write a lot these days but I write for myself. I write poems that I re-read for the truth I wrote out of myself and the insight that helps me to gain clarity. But those poems for the time being will stay in smooth black ink on creamy lined pages or in the word documents of my computer.

So I wonder what to write.

I am trying to learn gentleness these days; and quietness. I'm trying to learn what it means to love as Christ and so I sit with things a long time. I swallow words and speak differently than I started out to. I see how powerful words are and how carelessly we use them. How carelessly I've used them. I'm trying to relearn what it truly means to think before you speak.
 I am learning silence and stillness. Listening.

I'm searching for clarity.

So if I'm silent here, it's because I am wondering what to say and I'm learning how much better it is to say it in person. I'm trying to know my own heart and to go out from myself to know as much as I am able the hearts of others and learn to serve them beyond myself. I'm failing at it a lot, but I'm slowly learning. I'm trying to be patient. To be quiet.

I have stories and stories that I would love to share. But just for now I am turning them over in my heart like you would turn over a beloved keepsake in the light: studying nuances, considering shadows and intricacies, memorizing lines and shades. I'm soaking them in like a child who goes outside in the first warm spring sunshine: hungry.

So all of this is to say one little thing, I suppose. I used to try to post at least once a month, not abandon this little blog of mine which only a handful of people read. But I may not worry about that this year. If it happens, wonderful. If it does not, equally wonderful. I pray that I am present living life whether or not I have capacity to write from it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Night [slats]

I lay back flat
look up slat by slat
above my eyes shadows varying shade

Used to be
I never thought
drifted too quickly to wonder
the shape of virtue
or line of wisdom
I mulled daytimes, walking.

Restless now
Tossing I turn heaps over in my thoughts
past dark

Could be I was sitting
skirts tangled in a tumbled heap
of books waist deep

Empty slat shelves
staring me down.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

from "Riprap"

In my mind, the arguers never stop
the skeptic and the amazed
the general and the particular, in their
   uneasy relationship.

Then the robin sings.

Then the bulb of the lily becomes the stalk,
the stalk opens into a handkerchief of white light.

O what is beauty 
that I should be up at
four A.M. trying to arrange this
thick song?What is beauty that I should
bow down in the fields of the world, as though
someone, somewhere,made it?

O what is beauty
that I feel it to be so hot-blooded and suggestive
so filled with imperative

beneath the ease of its changes,
between the leaves and the clouds of its thousand
    and again thousand opportunities?

~Mary Oliver, from The Leaf and the Cloud 

Friday, January 3, 2014

on threads and writers and readers and poets.

 Reading books changes the way I think. I'm reading Annie Dillard right now, The Maytrees, and I find myself thinking in her odd cadence of sentences, thinking in words and lines, in similes and metaphors. I look at the world differently and wonder at it, try to see it from different perspectives.
     I'm reading Anna Karenina and noticing how Tolstoy uses children's relationship with adults to highlight aspects of the adults' characters. I wonder of that's true, if children have intuitive sense of adults the way Tolstoy thought they did.
     I walked out of the library yesterday with a book of collected Rilke poetry, translated from the German by Robert Bly. I sat down to read and skipped the introduction, going straight to the first set of poems. I fell in love with the first poem so much that I wanted to write it down then in my commonplace book, memorize it, run the words over my tongue and discover the mystery of their meaning.
     Sometimes I think I care too much. I run to show my sister Rilke and she laughs at me but she reads: first in German out loud and we laugh, and then her face quiets and she reads the English translation and her eyes get thoughtful. "That's interesting," she says, and I wonder how she doesn't read it again and sigh with the beauty of it, and try to puzzle out its intricacies and meanings. I know she has her own deep cares; she tells me of the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem she read the other day that was beautiful, and that too, the first poem in the book.


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