Wednesday, December 18, 2013

as a swallow its nest

Small Things

by Anna Kamienska

It usually starts taking shape
from one word
reveals itself in one smile
sometimes in the blue glint of eyeglasses
in a trampled daisy
in a splash of light on a path
in quivering carrot leaves
in a bunch of parsley
It comes from laundry hung on a balcony
from hands thrust into dough
It seeps through closed eyelids
as through the prison wall of things of objects
of faces of landscapes
It’s when you slice bread
when you pour out some tea
It comes from a broom from a shopping bag
from peeling new potatoes
from a drop of blood from the prick of a needle
when making panties for a child
or sewing a button on a husband’s burial shirt
It comes of toil out of care
out of the immense fatigue in the evening
out of a tear wiped away
out of a prayer broken off in mid-word by sleep

It’s not from the grand
but from the tiny thing
that it grows enormous
as if Someone was building Eternity
as a swallow its nest
out of clumps of moments

I think that's one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. (From her book, Astonishments, on my recommended shelf above).

In her notes, in the same book, she says:

"Joy - it's not just a gift. In a sense, it's also a duty, a task to fulfill. Courage." 

And I think it's important to think of joy this way. Just as we can glimpse eternity in "a splash of light on a path" so we can also find joy.

Yesterday I reminded myself of another duty I believe I have, which is to fulfill my tasks as an apprentice to light. And what I'm interested in is how those small things are illuminated, brought to our attention. A crust of bread, some jam. How these slivers of the world, unimportant, fleeting, quotidian, come to bear the weight of the world, reveal the beauty of the universe.

So yesterday, I toasted my bread, and then noticed the light by the window, on my usual little table.

I took so many photographs, and they were quite nice. But then the light moved in a little stronger, clearer....

...until this happened. Which I think is the nicest of the shots.


  1. Truly a beautiful poem. Apprentice of light...lovely.

  2. What a happy picture to open up your post. So sparking and clear, the jam. Unexpected perfection of color and light. Well done, Shawna.

    This poem spoke to me. I try to commit little moments of joy to memory daily. This post is on my list today!


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