Wednesday, December 17, 2014

winter kindness


by Stephen Dunn

In Manhattan, I learned a public kindness
was a triumph
over the push of money, the constrictions

of fear. If it occurred it came
from some deep
primal memory, almost entirely lost—

Here, let me help you, then you me,
otherwise we’ll die.
Which is why I love the weather

in Minnesota, every winter kindness
to obvious self-interest,

thus so many kindnesses
when you need them;
praise blizzards, praise the cold.

{source} once again thanks to the wonderful Writer's Almanac.

Dunn's poetry is well worth looking for, and I can also recommend his book of essays, Walking Light. It's long been on my book shelf.

From an interview Dunn gave some years ago:

"You need to let your poems get away from you a little so that they may find themselves."

Well, let's praise the cold, along with Stephen Dunn. At the core of the poem, the idea that if we help each other, we won't die, is something I love. Winter pares down the act of kindness. In a larger sense, it's the kind act that keep us all from dying in those myriad ways it's possible to die and go on living.

It's hard to believe that there are months left of winter. So far, there are plenty of berries left on the trees for the birds.

It's amazing to me that there are still leaves holding their colour on certain trees.

The way these leaves hold on so tenaciously, right through to the end, fills me with admiration.


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