Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Invoking Janus

Looking foward, looking backward.   Like Janus, we stand at the gate of the new year, and reflect while gazing ahead.

Here are two poems that make me think about that certain kind of retrospection that makes you look ahead with hope, too.  

The first is by William Stafford, from his collection Even in Quiet Places.  

You Reading This: Stop

Don't just stay tangled up in your life.
Out there in some river or cave where  you
could have been, some absolute, lonely
dawn may arrive and begin the story
that means what everything is about.

So don't just look, either:
let your whole self drift like a breath and learn
its way down the trees.  Let that fine 
waterfall-smoke filter its gone, magnified presence
all through the forest.  Stand here till all that
you were can wander away and come back slowly,
carrying a strange new flavor into your life.
Feel it?  That's what we mean.  So don't just 
read this.  rub your thought over it.

Now you can go on.

The second poem is by Linda Pastan, from her collection Carnival Evening.

The Happiest Day

It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn't believe.  Our children were asleep 
or playing, the youngest as new 
as the smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed 
their roots would be shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn't even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee.  Behind the news of the day--
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere--
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then...
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected 
color of the lilac.  Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.

With each of these poems, my thoughts skip like a stone across the pond to a future me.  My mind whirls when I imagine the bright rings left behind in the skittering path of years, glittering like the sun on the water.   

Wishing you a bright new year.  May your 2009 be filled with hope and light and bright shining moments.

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Paula said...

Beautiful poems - beautifully written post. :) Happy New Year!

La Belette Rouge said...

Gorgeous poems to end 2008 and begin 2009. I hope your 2009 is filled with poetry,beauty, joy, love and all dreams come true.xoxo

Irene Latham said...

I love that first Stafford line about not getting tangled up in life... and yes, if we would just take a moment now and then to recognize where we are and how wonderful and miraculous the world is... nice reminder as we enter this new year. THANKS.

Anonymous said...

I love the Linda Pastan poem. Her work is so wonderful.

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