Monday, April 27, 2015
I think, so often, poetry gets a bad rap. To the uninitiated it masquerades as complicated; both in form and content. When someone says to me, with a dose of resignation in their voice, I just don't understand poetry, I can't help wonder if they have resolved not to understand it.
Because, you see, the trick to understanding poetry is simply this: to live. As one of my friends recently put it, poetry is a condensed emotional experience. Appreciating it does not require an MFA. Nor does it ask you to imbue meaning from the meter. Poetry, as Billy Collins put it, is simply words playing together, having fun. Sentences skipping rocks and reminding you what it means to be human. Poems can make you laugh. Poems can handle heavy subjects with grace and truth. Poems do not need to rhyme; although they can. Poems often tell stories; although they don't have to. In truth, poems are for the prince and pauper alike.
In celebration of National Poetry Month I thought I'd share three accessible and new-to-me selections.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission. be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
A Story About the Body
The young composer, working that summer at an artist's colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, "I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy," and when he didn't understand, "I've lost both my breasts." The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity—like music—withered very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, "I'm sorry. I don't think I could." He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl—she must have swept them from the corners of her studio—was full of dead bees.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Ps. Other thoughts about poetry.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
My second intention is to eat one salad a day for a meal. One of the unexpected benefits of automating a meal is not having to think about what I'll be eating for lunch that day. The decision has already been made. Which is kind of what intentions are all about. Setting your mind to something and making that your reality.
Friday, April 10, 2015
At 34 weeks this girl turns eight-months-old in a matter of days. Days, people. Her new favorite toy, the one that's been permanently attached to her hand since Easter, is this empty plastic egg. She simply adores it. Each stage, as you might imagine, has ups and downs. However, I'm pretty certain that this is the best phase. Her latest trick happened earlier this week, when I went in to get her up from her nap and found her in a completely different position. Pretty sneaky, that girl.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
remarkable collection of read-aloud strategies to help children (or illiterate adults) become lifelong readers. Perfect for parents, teachers or anyone that enjoys reading books aloud.
WATCHING: This trailer for a new Joan Didion documentary. Have you read any of her work? Also, our Wednesday night P&P group has moved on to watching THE BEST Sense and Sensibility movie that I can quote verbatim. I try to restrain myself.
EATING: Lots of salad. I set my intention to have one salad a day for a meal during the month of April.
ENJOYING: Daily outdoor walks. Part two of my April goal was to take one 30-45 minute walk outside every day. After one week my stamina is stronger and my outlook is sunnier.
MAKING: Space in our outdoor garden beds for perennials. But first, eradicating those pesky weeds.
SAVING FOR: These stacking kid chairs!
LISTENING TO: This powerful truth.
REMEMBERING: My dad.
EXCITED FOR: A certain one-year-old's birthday party. It's not too early to start planning, right?
image: shuttered, but still shining building located in St. Louis, MO.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
my favorite cities. Here are a few things I learned about traveling with a baby.
Plan and pack accordingly. Pre-baby I made it my mission to never checked a bag when flying. However, babies come with A LOT of gear. Which meant one giant checked bag for the two of us. For the plane I packed a backpack with all the minimum essentials we'd need for about six hours—including food for Amelia and snacks for me. (In addition to what's pictured I packed my standard extra baby outfit and a ziplock bag for surprise mishaps). I took both a lightweight stroller AND a baby wrap (I use this one). For her two plane toys I tied a string to them with a bulldog clip at the other end and attached them to her bib to avoid picking them up off the dirty floor. Finally, I made arrangements beforehand to borrow a pack-n-play and car seat that would be waiting at our destination.
table chair gave Amelia a sense of familiarity and easily affixed to my friend's kitchen island. Whenever we went out to eat I tried to eat at restaurants I knew would have a highchair. When we were on the go I packed a bottle and a few snack since my seven-month-old can happily gum cereal puffs and a variety of solid foods.
Make room for down time. The first day we got to town I made the mistake of rushing into the city after several hours of travel. Sure the weather was incredible, but I think if I had taken a few hours to unwind I could have avoided feeling frazzled the first night. After that I adjusted my expectations and made certain to only schedule one or two activities between Amelia's nap schedule. Fortunately, Katie, who we were staying with, was flexible which made scheduling down time extra easy. One day another friend drove down from Philadelphia with her daughter, which gave Amelia time to interact with someone her own size. Luckily down time isn't just for the baby. The second night I hired a babysitter so that I could relax in the city at one of my favorite local venues and not have to worry about mama duties. Ever noticed how recharging throughout the day actually makes outings more enjoyable than a go-go-go schedule?
Sky Meadows State Park. Which gave Amelia a change to nap, while we enjoyed the landscape and tranquility of the Virginia countryside. The bonus part was bumping into a Civil War reenactment while we were there.
Ask for help. It takes a village, right? Before I left on my trip I sent a little note to my friend admitting how nervous I was about traveling with a baby. Alone. She responded with kindness which made me feel like everything would be okay. And it was. In truth I was a little surprised by how helpful strangers at the airport were. Apparently having a baby gets you automatic go-to-the-front-of-the-security-line treatment. Nice! Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed or frustrated I reminded myself to simply ask for assistance. Sure some people might say no, but I think most people, especially friends, want to help.
Just go for it. Like anything, the more you do something the easier it becomes. I'm so glad I didn't let fear stop me from traveling and sharing a city I love with my little miss. It was so fun to watch as she experienced new things like public transportation and airports; taking it all in with wide-eyed wonder. It made the entire trip worth it. Well that and all the good food we ate.