Saturday, we spent the morning with Jane Kenyon and Mary Oliver as part of the Poetry Detective Club’s new monthly initiative at the Poplar Grove Schoolhouse. Rebekah Spivey led us in discussion of two seemingly small poems.
For two delicious hours in the dappled morning light and shadows cast from our own Black Walnut Tree against the green walls of our meeting space, we basked in the profundity of simplicity, in the idea of poems as talismans.
The poems grew as we talked, expanding in many directions, taking us deeper –I dare say --into our own experiences of release and poetic sight. This felt like a “spirit bath” to me; soothing, stimulating, restorative on many levels.
We discussed “Let Evening Come”, Kenyon’s meditation on surrender. We talked about breathing rhythms, the psychic and bodily sensations we got listening and reading out loud, and the tensions created by carefully juxtaposed images. We teased out meanings. We discussed masculine and feminine energies held within the poem, and much more.
In Mary Oliver’s “Summer Poem”, we moved from the concept of surrender to the call to “sight” and the illustration of a kind of attention poets pay, not only to what they find right in front of them the moment they walk out their front doors, but in the making of poems. I don’t want to give it away, but there’s a wonderful surprise found ; a form within the form in this poem near the end.
Check out the Poetry Detectives for details on when the group meets, copies of these poems, and more information on this new group. Join us on 2nd Saturday Mornings if you’d like to read and discuss poetry.
I offer here a poem of mine that Rebekah remembered. Mostly because she remembered it and then I read it and thought, well, it too illustrates a kind of seeing I aspire to cultivate over my lifetime.
Walking the border of stubbled cornfield
one day I looked up.
A grey-brown tangle of fur fluttered
from a high net of branches, flopped
lifeless, animal dish rag
tossed up to dry.
Tail rings identified,
the twist of her neck suggested
a quick though grizzly end.
I pondered from my place on the ground:
What could she have known of flight
washing her paws, minding her
own moonlit business there by
What terror in the elevation,
her perilous decent?
What forces of night or miscalculating
bird of prey caught her
lifting her mask—
swooped down for the silver reflecting
from un-shaded eyes,
then realized, mid-air
what was too weighty for wings?
It comes to me now:
Foiled ambitions litter the canopies
of our lives
turn of event,
a trembling song on the high wind. --Beth Lodge-Rigal