Saturday, September 17, 2011

Too Beautiful

I never left the six acres last weekend, but to be honest, I never left the house for three days.
I was hoping to get a grip, but after the weekend I still didn't have lesson plans, my office was still awry to put it mildly, and I didn't have much fun. This weekend I started the day right, with a phone call, and another phone call, and then I wrote a poem.

for WS Merwin

So beautiful today
I don’t know what to do with it
I can’t be outside it’s too perfect
the morning glories are too too without
even ingesting their known iota of trip
The Maximillian sunflowers are poised
to bloom and even that potential is wildly
enticing into too beautiful The dues we paid
After the fires after the wind and smoke the terrible
canyon fires of Santa Clara watershed tears shed
I could cry again today for the world we earned
paid its dues to too beautiful too beautiful
beautiful datura beautiful the Jewish New Year
I am already lamenting I stand naked for an hour
in my greenhouse watching the cereus flower
prepare for night blooming I stand naked before
my shower and after my shower another phone call
from the too beautiful I talk naked on the phone
because I don’t know how to manage today
with how I love too beautiful the note in the mail
from you how I love poets and painters who make
the world shine me I never want to set foot
inside a classroom with no windows
I want to speak poetry to those finches
and to the kale I will tell the kale I forgive the aphids
you are so greenly beautiful I love my body today
because it is the vessel that carries too beautiful
soon departing for other beauty don’t mention
it you say but in the too beautiful death
is already sharpening the scythe its harvest
of the too beautiful a basil scent a mint too many
tomatoes and a glut of cucumbers and I forget
that I know how to preserve I am doing it now


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The snake returned

I went to pick eggs today, and the snake was back. I don't know if I even told you about the snake. Our rural life is fraught with adventures. There is a mouse hanging by his claws in the root cellar, a lizard growing back his tail in the garden, a ground squirrel who eats through cardboard to get the bird seed, and a snake who unhinges his or her jaw and tries to swallow our eggs.

We got one picture of the snake and the Wildlife Center confirmed that it is a bull snake. I haven't seen my yearly rattler, so I wasn't sure. Various excitements of la Puebla life include the road washing out at least twice, this year the fires, the rabbits taking over the garden, and giving up at least twice. After I gave up I gave in, and replanted at least two times.

Now I am reaping what I reluctantly sowed. The morning glories, from the small pink ones to the giant Heavenly Blues, have never been so extravagant. I have the look through them out my kitchen window while washing dishes. I want to have my portrait taken in them. I don't want them to ever leave. This planting I have done for at least 20 years and this is the best batch.

Wish I could say the same for my writing, which brings me to the Gift poem. I am teaching my last of the eight week poetry group tonight, and I want to tell them about the gift poem before they graduate from summer into fall, from heat into cool, and from my voice into their own voices.

All the lousy poems I write are part of the writer's life. I write several lousy ones for one okay one, and after a hundred, I may get a gift. You do not need to carry around a little plastic card like Flying Star where I am writing this, and have $5.00 credit on my Frequent Flier card. I have paid my dues and now get ecstatic morning glories, giant kale, basil, and even cukes and tomatoes. I have paid my dues and have had a sweet relationship year, year # 41, I have paid my dues and after 30 years in schools get to be PL for this time in my life.

You know in the fairy tales there are always two smart brothers and the dumb one.
Or the two sisters who tell the king they love him like diamonds and gold, and the simple sister who tells her royal father that he is "as dear as salt?" Well, these two smartie pants are the ones who don't get the prize, maybe like my intelligent conscious mind writing a poem. The simpleton mind at the end gets lucky, wins the love, has the success. That is the generosity of the gift, we have to feed it, sacrifice, throw the bit of dough into the oven, feed the invisible, make the offerings.

So, Mr. or Ms. Snake. Go to it. If we feed some eggs to the snake, perhaps we'll have a few more of these glorious days, the fall cooled down, the rains relaxing us, the garden thrilled that it got to green. Today I put our expensive finch feed and expensive yellow finch sized birds arrived. Where do they line up waiting for the good stuff? Another season in La Puebla and my husband filling in the gravel on the washed out driveway as his birthday gift to all of us.

Being the PL is a lot like this snake. I have my mouth open wide and can't quite get a grip on the egg, but I am persistent. As with my now abundant garden, I do not give up. And I noticed that the smaller the garden, the larger my yield.

I happen to recall lines from Anna Ahkmatova:

"I don't know if the day is ending
or the world is ending
or if the secret of secrets is inside me again."