Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunflowers and Blue Skies

Some days I wake up grieving I know not what. There's always plenty to sigh and storm over. So, most often, I don't puzzle on it too much. It is what it is or maybe it is nothing.

Today there is something. After reading Mig who wrote about justifying one's own existence (or not), I was reading Yarnstorm at Jane Brocket's little slice of the world. Jane wrote about the sad news of Elspeth Thompson's death.

Elspeth sort of enchanted me ( and I mean that in the "moved by magic" way it sounds) with her beautiful blogs, books, and columns.

I read a comment left in condolence by arusa that quoted a poem:

Why did you vanish
into the empty sky?

Even the fragile snow,
when it falls,
falls in this world.

- izumi shikibu -
woman poet of the Heian period, Japan

And then another comment that is one of my beautiful Mother's favorite poems by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

And lastly, I recalled this from Kathleen Raine posted by Elspeth on her own blog here:


I believe nothing – what need

Surrounded as I am with marvels of what is,

This familiar room, books, shabby carpet on the floor,

Autumn yellow jasmine, chrysanthemums, my mother’s flower,

Earth-scent of memories, daily miracles,

Yet media-people ask, “Is there a God?”

What does the word mean

To the fish in his ocean, birds

In his skies, and stars?

I only know that when I turn in sleep

Into the invisible, it seems

I am upheld by love, and what seems is

Inexplicable here and now of joy and sorrow,

This inexhaustible, untidy world -

I would not have it otherwise.

Elspeth had that extraordinary ability to appreciate and nurture the exquisite in the ordinary and untidy. Sometimes extraordinary skills demand an excruciating sensitivity.

So, to make sense of the painful impermanence of the beautiful we can try words, frail though they be.

I like to look at my child's eyes. From his early days to now they are made of sunflowers and blue skies.

click on photo to see the sunflowers up close

They are as miraculous as anything I've known.

What is enough? Enough to convince us to stay. To see things through. To believe that there is something ahead of us or something right now that requires our presence.

To steady my gaze on the now, I claim the natural world, these eyes, and a quote that I believe originated with Pam Houston in Cowboys Are My Weakness:

"A death wish is a life wish, as love is the flip-side of fear."

And I will not judge another for their own conclusion.

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