Thursday, May 9, 2013

but this is human life

But this is human life: the war, the deeds,
The disappointment, the anxiety,
Imagination's struggles, far and nigh,
All human; bearing in themselves this good,
that they are still the air, the subtle food,
To make us feel existence.

- John Keats


by Marie Howe

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

"This is the 'goal' of the soul path - to feel existence; not to overcome life's struggles and anxieties, but to know life first hand, to exist fully in context."  

- Thomas Moore

To exist fully in context. I think this is why I like the poem by Marie Howe so much - it's because she gets at the way we rush about, especially with small children who might prefer to experience things, to dawdle, and how we have this sort of self-important air about us as we run errands. But the speaker of the poem realizes how odd and awful this hurrying about is, stops, and then has the child 'be the mother.' The child of course mimics what she's experienced.

That even this modern circumstance of dashing around, hurrying to complete the more mundane tasks, that even this may be 'subtle food' for poems, I find comforting.

I keep coming back to these bells, don't I? There they are when I come home from my walk, in the front garden. 

The colours that are really all too much. A bit over the top, a bit gaudy. Still, when the sun reaches into the thin space that it may reach, over the too tall house beside us and illuminates the glass beads, in that one narrow possible interval each day....I'm still quietly astounded by what the light can do. I can't help but admire the glittering and glowing, the twinkling. And if there is a gentle breeze, as there was yesterday, then there is all this along with the shimmering sound of the bells.

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