Evening Poetry, December 11, 2022

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Christmas Trees by Robert Frost

A Christmas circular letter
  
  
The city had withdrawn into itself  
And left at last the country to the country;  
When between whirls of snow not come to lie  
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove  
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,   
Yet did in country fashion in that there  
He sat and waited till he drew us out,  
A-buttoning coats, to ask him who he was.  
He proved to be the city come again  
To look for something it had left behind   
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.  
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;  
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place  
Where houses all are churches and have spires.  
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas trees.    
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment  
To sell them off their feet to go in cars  
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,  
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.  
I'd hate to have them know it if I was.      
Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees, except  
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,  
Beyond the time of profitable growth—  
The trial by market everything must come to.  
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.      
Then whether from mistaken courtesy  
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether  
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,  
I said, "There aren't enough to be worth while."
  
"I could soon tell how many they would cut,     
You let me look them over."  
 
                                    "You could look.  
But don't expect I'm going to let you have them."  
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close  
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few     
Quite solitary and having equal boughs  
All round and round. The latter he nodded "Yes" to,  
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,  
With a buyer's moderation, "That would do."  
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so.   
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,  
And came down on the north. 
 
                                    He said, "A thousand."  
  
"A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?"  
  
He felt some need of softening that to me:       
"A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars."  
  
Then I was certain I had never meant  
To let him have them. Never show surprise!  
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside  
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents    
(For that was all they figured out apiece)—   
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends  
I should be writing to within the hour  
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,  
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools     
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
  
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had!  
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,  
As may be shown by a simple calculation.  
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter.       
I can't help wishing I could send you one,  
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

You can find this poem in The Illustrated Robert Frost: 15 Winter Poems for Children.

Evening Poetry, July 14

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From Rhythms and Roads by Victoria Erickson

You'll know when it's time to heal.
And you will always travel inwardly,
among your deep grooves and rivers,
returning with full hands,
ready to release light
into your external aching world.

Evening Poetry, April 5

Guest List
by Annie Lighthart

Only once, one afternoon, almost asleep on the couch,
could I come up with the perfect guests for an
imaginary dinner party--a mix of the living and dead,
the deep and the shy artfully combined with the
swashbuckling talkers. It was such a list: everyone
would say yes, and we'd sit in pairs maybe, or close
little bunches, or maybe all together at the table
while the candles burned low. Later, with a few
out on the front step, what with our immediate kinship,
the wine and warm night, I could ask them anything,
anything--historical, personal--and thus find out about life
and time. Our goodbyes would be fond and long.

But just now: no one. I can't think of a soul I'd like over,
not one for whom I'd vacuum or shove laundry
in the shower, not one for whom I'd balance fine cheese
on ridiculously small morsels of bread.

Except you, person I just saw crossing the street,
you who stopped to move a slug off the sidewalk
with a little piece of paper you took from your coat.
You, I would clean for. You, I would like to meet.

You can find this poem in Pax.

Evening Poetry, April 1

Sutra 26 from The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight
by Lorin Roche

The One Who Is at Play Everywhere says,

There is a space in the heart where everything meets.
Come here if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity – all are here.
Are you here?

Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Listen to the song that is always resonating.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.
Quiet ecstasy is here,
And a steady, regal sense
Of resting in a perfect spot.
You who are the embodiment of blessing,
Once you know the way,
The nature of attention will call you to return.
Again and Again, answer that call,
And be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home.”

Evening Poetry, March 31

Spring
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, March 30

I No Longer Pray For Peace
by Amy Weems

On the edge of war, one foot already in,

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

I pray that stone hearts will turn
to tenderheartedness,
and evil intentions will turn
to mercifulness,
and all the soldiers already deployed
will be snatched out of harm’s way,
and the whole world will be
astounded onto its knees.

I pray that all the “God talk”
will take bones,
and stand up and shed
its cloak of faithlessness,
and walk again in its powerful truth.

I pray that the whole world might
sit down together and share
its bread and its wine.

Some say there is no hope,
but then I’ve always applauded the holy fools
who never seem to give up on
the scandalousness of our faith:
that we are loved by God……
that we can truly love one another.

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

You can find this poem in From Advent's Alleluia to Easter's Morning Light: Poetry for Worship, Study, and Devotion.

Evening Poetry, March 29

Famous

by Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

You can find this poem in Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, March 28

Letters to My Husband Far Away
by Gillian Wegener

The house is not empty without you.
It thrums and bumps, the walls relax and sigh.
The water heater dutifully comes on, rumbles
with heat, waiting for your shower to start.
How many times today have I heard
your truck in the driveway, the floor creak
with your step, felt your breath against
the back of my neck. At least that often,
I've turned to tell you something,
or hand you a piece of cheese or a plum,
but it's two more days until you return.
It's just me in this room, with this plum,
with this good fortune, with this far-flung love.

You can find this in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.

Evening Poetry, March 27

Kindness

by Anya Silver

Last week, a nurse pulled a warm blanket
from a magical cave of heated cotton
and lay it on my lap, even wrapping
my feet. She admired my red sandals.
Once, a friend brought me a chicken
she’d roasted and packed with whole lemons.
I ate it with my fingers while it was still warm.
Kindnesses appear, then disappear so quickly
that I forget their brief streaks: they vanish,
while cruelty pearls its durable shell.
Goodness streams like hot water through my hair
and down my skin, and I’m able to live
again with the ache. Love wakens the world.
Kindness is my mother, sending me a yellow dress in the mail
for no reason other than to watch me twirl.

You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.

Evening Poetry, March 26

We Are Of A Tribe
by Alberto Ríos

We plant seeds in the ground
And dreams in the sky,
 
Hoping that, someday, the roots of one
Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other.
 
It has not happened yet.
We share the sky, all of us, the whole world:
 
Together, we are a tribe of eyes that look upward,
Even as we stand on uncertain ground.
 
The earth beneath us moves, quiet and wild,
Its boundaries shifting, its muscles wavering.
 
The dream of sky is indifferent to all this,
Impervious to borders, fences, reservations.
 
The sky is our common home, the place we all live.
There we are in the world together.
 
The dream of sky requires no passport.
Blue will not be fenced. Blue will not be a crime.
 
Look up. Stay awhile. Let your breathing slow.
Know that you always have a home here.

You can find this poem in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems.