Evening Poetry, March 28

Quartz Clock

by Jane Hirshfield

The ideas of a physicist

can be turned into useful objects:

a rocket, a quartz clock,

a microwave oven for cooking.

the ideas of poets turn into only themselves,

as the hands of a clock do,

or the face of a person.

It changes, but only more into the person.

You can find this poem in The Beauty: Poems.

Evening Poetry, March 27

Alternatives

by Rachel Hadas

Our argument went walking down the street.

Fresh light bounced off the water:

a harbor was behind us, out of sight

except for those exuberant refractions,

morning’s hope and afternoon’s late ripeness

arm in arm. What time was it? Where were we?

I craned for street signs; could decipher nothing.

Radiant, rinsed, the slates beneath our feet

shone up at us, wet silver.

Was this the city where we’d always lived?

You can find this in Halfway Down the Hall.

Evening Poetry, March 25

(From the first section in the first series entitled Life.)

VI.

by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life in aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

You can find this poem in Hope is the Thing With Feathers.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

With so much of everyday life feeling upside down right now, I am doing my best to keep my life as normal as possible. This includes getting up early for yoga and meditation, eating meals at nearly the same times each day, and reading as much as I did before. (Or maybe a little bit more!) Reading relaxes, comforts, takes me out of my own story, and connects me with people past and present whose stories and experiences are different than my own.

So what have I been reading?

The first is Kitchen Table Sustainability: Practical Recipes for Community Engagement with Sustainability by Wendy Sarkissian, Nancy Hofer, Yollana Shore, Steph Vajda and Cathy Wilkinson.

My lovely boss recommended I read this to better understand the way our local non-profit works and to help me see what can happen when local residents are engaged in projects that bring improvements to their community. (Thank you, Theresa!)

These pages contain stories of what worked and what didn’t. I learned that it is much better to go into a community that may have high poverty and crime rates, for example, and look for the assets already there, rather than simply focusing on the needs. What might those be, you ask?

Local people have untapped practical skills and know what they would like to change, but they have to be asked, to be consulted, rather than ignored in favor of bringing in “the experts”. They need encouragement in order to be confident enough to speak out, because they don’t want to appear foolish in front of others in their community. Engaging local residents requires patience and careful listening as people share their ideas. It requires connecting people to each other. It requires long-term thinking. If you’re involved with your community in any way, I highly recommend this book!

For a fast-paced thrilling read, here is Hide Away by Jason Pinter. Introducing Rachel Marin, a strong woman with a violent, tragic past that she is trying her best to forget. She is doing her best to care for and protect her two children and live as normal a life as possible. But she has this impulse to stop crime when she sees it. So she gets involved in helping the police with a murder investigation and things get a little scary.

I enjoyed the ease and pace of reading, Rachel’s strength of character, as well as the personalities and dialogue of the two police officers working on the case. This is going to be a series, apparently. It reminds me a bit of Dean Koontz’s Jane Hawk series, so if you like those books, you will probably like this as well!

Did I tell you I’m reading through the Bronte sisters’ novels this year? So far I’ve listened to the audio versions of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Shirley. The first two were re-reads, but I’d never read Shirley before.

Set in Yorkshire, on the moors, during 1811-1812. There was a lot happening then: the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, an industrial depression focused in the mills, and the Luddite uprisings. If you’re interested in history, this novel could be a springboard into all of these subjects. Against all of this political and economical upheaval is the story of two young women who are finding their place in the world, falling in love, dealing with family, suffering losses, and discovering their inner strength. I’m glad I read it and, if you’re a Bronte fan, put this novel in your TBR pile.

So that’s a little taste of what I’ve been reading lately. What have you been reading?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

Evening Poetry, March 24

Prayer For This House

by Louis Untermeyer

May nothing evil cross this door,

And may ill-fortune never pry

About these windows; may the roar

and rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, the rafters will

Withstand the battering of the storm.

This hearth, though all the world grow chill

Will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,

Touching your lips with holy wine,

Till every casual corner blooms

Into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout

And, though the sheltering walls are thin,

May they be strong to keep hate out

And hold love in.

You can find this in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, March 22

Have you all read this yet? I had to share it in case you haven’t. Love to you all!

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
 
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

You can purchase her new book of poetry here and you can visit her website here.

Evening Poetry, March 21

Spring

(by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

Again, the violet bows to the lily.
Again, the rose is tearing off her gown!

The green ones have come from the other world,
tipsy like the breeze up to some new foolishness.

Again, near the top of the mountain
the anemone’s sweet features appear.

The hyacinth speaks formally to the jasmine,
“Peace be with you.” “And peace to you, lad!
Come walk with me in this meadow.”

Again, there are sufis everywhere!
The bud is shy, but the wind removes
her veil suddenly, “My friend!”

The Friend is here like water in the stream,
like a lotus on the water.

The narcissus winks at the wisteria,
“Whenever you say.”

And the clove to the willow, “You are the one
I hope for.” The willow replies, “Consider
these chambers of mine yours. Welcome!”

The apple, “Orange, why the frown?”
“So that those who mean harm
will not see my beauty.”

The ringdove comes asking, “Where,
where is the Friend?

With one note the nightingale
indicates the rose.

Again, the season of Spring has come
and a spring-source rises under everything,
a moon sliding from the shadows.

Many things must be left unsaid, because it’s late,
but whatever conversation we haven’t had
tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.

You can find this in The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, March 20

Then Bluebird Sang

by Mary Oliver

Bluebird

slipped a little tremble

out of the triangle

of his mouth

and it hung in the air

until it reached my ear

like a froth or a frill

that Schumann

might have written in a dream.

Dear morning

you come

with so many angels of mercy

so wondrously disguised

in feathers, in leaves,

in the tongues of stones,

in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click

and the rustle

that greet me wherever I go

with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!

You can find this poem in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, March 19

Joy

by Lisel Mueller

“Don’t cry, it’s only music,”

someone’s voice is saying.

“No one you love is dying.”

It’s only music. And it was only spring,

the world’s unreasoning body

run amok, like a saint’s, with glory,

that overwhelmed a young girl

into unreasoning sadness.

“Crazy,” she told herself,

“I should be dancing with happiness.”

But it happened again. It happens

when we make bottomless love–

there follows a bottomless sadness

which is not despair

but its nameless opposite.

It has nothing to do with the passing of time.

It’s not about loss. It’s about

two seemingly parallel lines

suddenly coming together

inside us, in some place

that is still wilderness.

Joy, joy, the sopranos sing,

reaching for the shimmering notes

while our eyes fill with tears.

You can find this poem in Alive Together.

Evening Poetry, March 18

Swans

by Mary Oliver

They appeared

over the dunes,

they skimmed the trees

and hurried on

to the sea

or some lonely pond

or wherever it is

that swans go,

urgent, immaculate,

the heat of their eyes

staring down

and then away,

the thick spans

of their wings

as bright as snow,

their shoulder-power

echoing

inside my own body.

How could I help but adore them?

How could I help but wish

that one of them might drop

a white feather

that I should have

something in my hand

to tell me

that they were real?

Of course

this was foolish.

What we love, shapely and pure,

is not to be held,

but to be believed in.

And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.

You can find this in Evidence.