Sunday, March 11, 2012

waiting for life to burst out...

"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."

~ Emily Dickinson

C A N   I   W E A V E   A   N E S T   O F    S I L E N C E

by May Sarton

The phoebe sits on her nest
Hour after hour,
Day after day,
Waiting for life to burst out
From under her warmth.
Can I weave a nest of silence,
weave it of listening,
listening, listening,
Layer upon layer?
But one must first become small,
Nothing but a presence,
Attentive as a nesting bird,
Proffering no slightest wish
Toward anything
that might happen or be given,
Only the warm, faithful waiting,
contained in one’s smallness.
Beyond the question,
the silence.
Before the answer,
the silence.

One day last week, on a very grey day as it turned out, I was treated to this soaring aerial ballet, above.  It was such a beautiful experience, but the photographs I took didn't seem to capture the feeling, so I tinkered with it until it came a bit closer.  I think that part of the appeal of the photo, is for me, knowing that underneath the pastel gradations, there is a grey day.  A formerly unsalvageable photo. That it exists, layer upon layer.

It is possible to see beauty in the world, to feel it, and also feel that despair that creeps into one when one is waiting, waiting, waiting.  To write is to wait, yes?  It's amazing that art is made at all, I sometimes think. There is so little time for it, so many things to oppress, to suppress the making. The noise of the world is heavy. One is pulled in so many directions, time is stolen, it seeps away.  And then, on a morning like this, we 'lose' an hour to daylight savings time.  

For times like these, when one is equally steeped in beauty and in despair, it is excellent to have a poem like Sarton's to repeat over and over.  One must first become small....


  1. Such a lovely post; the poem and your encounter with the birds and then the making of a piece of art to coincide with what you felt. It is hard to be small in a world that seems to spread itself at our feet but we need to remember the smallness of things, I think. It is from this that greatness comes.

  2. I love to watch birds. I, too, watched a ballet of dancing waxwings out my back window for about 1/2 hour. I noted on the calendar that they arrived a week later last year. Of all the things that take me away from the things I long to do, I never mind the birds. I feel delighted to be a witness to their busy lives. I have to make myself small and quiet to be able to watch them unnoticed. It's completely thrilling.

  3. I love that you chose that quote by Emily Dickinson. I had it posted in my office, once when I had an office, for the longest time. And you're right, to write is to wait. You say that perfectly. It seems sometimes that one reaches that period of silence necessary for writing only then to have daily obligations press in. The timekeeper points to the clock. I did love your birds' nests, but the new font you've chosen is very delicate and romantic.


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