Friday, October 29, 2010

Poetry Friday: Big Weather, Continued

Yesterday I posted a photo of a terrifying but beautiful scene, thinking at the time, "Isn't it remarkable that something can be built of such seemingly contradictory elements - beauty and terror?" The photo shows a storm cloud/tornado over a peaceful landscape, and it seemed to me that this photo produced what a good novel or a good poem can produce - thoughts of lives lived under (or changed quickly by) the special circumstances evoked.  Literature does this - conjures up stories where human lives intersect with mysterious, uncontrollable forces.  Here's the photo again, in case you missed it.
Today, for Poetry Friday, I hunted up a poem titled "A Hermit Thrush" by Amy Clampitt which I remembered from a few years back - I first read it after a big wind storm in Seattle. It's the final four stanzas of the poem which stuck with me:

the longest day take cover under
a monk's-cowl overcast,

with thunder, rain and wind, then waiting,
we drop everything to listen as a
hermit thrush distills its fragmentary,
hesitant, in the end

unbroken music. From what source (beyond us, or
the wells within?) such links perceived arrive--
diminished sequences so uninsistingly
not even human--there's

hardly a vocabulary left to wonder, uncertain
as we are of so much in this existence, this
botched, cumbersome, much-mended,
not unsatisfactory thing.
I love those adjectives at the end, especially the surprise of the very last one: botched, cumbersome, much-mended, not unsatisfactoryDespite the flaws, we love life. Despite that storm cloud, a hermit thrush's unbroken song.

The whole poem can be read here. Notice the first line, too - "Nothing's certain." I'd like my creative writing students at Vermont College of Fine Arts to think about that a  bit, because writing for children, which is what I teach, can be a little pedantic - a little too certain of the rightness of the message.  Maybe I'll lecture on the value of uncertainty (negative capability = living in uncertainty) next July.

Poetry Friday today is being hosted today by Toby Speed (oops, I mean by her cat, Kashi) over at The Writer's Armchair.You'll find there what other people are posting around the Web!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Big Weather

This strikes me as remarkably beautiful. Terrifying, yes. But beautiful, too. Look at the small objects under the cloud - are they just trees? Maybe a house in the distance, a barn? For me, this is what great fiction or great poetry can do -help us visualize the huge forces at work in the world, whether they are physical or emotional, and add particular lives. Take a look at the whole scene again. I think THAT is what storytelling can do. Conjure up forces that are mysterious, beautiful, terrifying, and uncontrollable, and then say, "Into this picture, insert a life...."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Fracture of the tibia at the medial plateau....."

Right there, at the medial tibial plateau - that's where my husband's leg was broken in a car accident a few hours after I posted my last Poetry Friday poem. Two operations later, he's home now and I'm trying to be a good nurse. Our month-long trip to Spain, scheduled to start a few days after the accident, was canceled. And Nando's retirement, which was to be celebrated by our trip, is not off to a great start. Life goes upside down fast, but we're looking for the positive - we know we're lucky it was only a broken leg. And we're in recovery mode. And I'm looking for a word that rhymes with tibia (amphibia? inhibia? Nambibia?)

Will be back to drift around here soon - after "aggressive range of motion therapy."