Since I always take some time on my ‘Sabbath’ Monday to soak in some great poetry, I thought I would share a poem each week for a while. I call it “Poetry Monday.”
I discovered Anne Porter this summer. This is the ‘title’ poem from her collected works called Living Things. She was 83 when she published her first book of poems! I’ll take the liberty to add some comments at the end, noted by the (*) in the text.
Are like the wart-hogs
In the zoo
It’s hard to say
Why there should be such creatures
But once our life gets into them
As sometimes happens
Turn into living things *
And there’s no arguing
With living things
The way they are
May be rough
They have inside them
A confluence of cries
And secret languages
They are improvident **
A kind of Sabbath
On sooty fire escapes
And window ledges
They wander in and out
Of jails and gardens
In the deep mines
In breaking waves
And rock like wooden cradles. ***
* I can relate to how poems take on a life of their own and give voice to our heart – or to what God is doing in our hearts – like no other kind of expression. Sort of like the Psalms! Interesting how for Porter also, poems “keep a kind of sabbath!”
** “Improvident” – I had to look this word up – it means risky or done without much forethought.
*** Her last stanzas are cataloguing how poetry shows up everywhere, from coal mines to prisons to a baby’s lullaby.
I’ve witnessed many beautiful sunsets over the summer. One evening I drove to the end of Jamestown Island. Dozens of people had the same idea. My mind suddenly got caught up in the question, “Why are we as people so universally captivated by sunsets?” I’d be interested in your thoughts. I started to scribble notes that morphed into this late night poem…
Many souls join me for solitude
on the rocky shore
of point Beaver Tail.
The Lighthouse sounds,
a mellow horn piercing through
the surround-sound waves.
Sunsets create a cosmic following!
Everywhere, every day, the rock star
puts on a show!
Just the planet turning, really;
but the Light still dances
in our earth-bound eyes.
From a million miles away
it paints pictures to die for
from every shore and mountain top;
Adored by all
who awe and wonder
from where such beauty rises.
The longing crowd stares in long silence,
to watch the icon leave the stage;
silent standing ovation; deafening peace.
What draws humanity
to paint and post as if
we’d never seen this scene before?
Can we not get enough
of that beauty
we were made for?
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
In the early years, it didn’t look too healthy;
we shuddered to think about it coming down,
and what our roof would look like if a storm overcame it.
We needed that tree to survive and thrive – and it did.
Our boys loved the tree and in one of their first adventures,
claimed a divine right to climb.
The problem is that our tree is not a climbing tree.
Too few branches, too far apart, and too big to get your little arms around.
Not to be denied, the boys took a small rope ladder from an old swing set
and somehow attached it to the lowest oversized limb
making it possible to at least climb to the first floor of the monster
where they fashioned a modest platform.
It was a slum compared to the dream house they first imagined.
A triumph of neighborhood development nonetheless.
They didn’t become Spiderman or Tarzan
but the laws of gravity and timidity had been overcome.
Ten or fifteen years have passed.
And the rope ladder is still there.
One of those eyesores you live with and forget to remove.
It’s a ladder to nowhere it seems. Looking closer,