Friday, April 05, 2019

Poetry Friday: Spring (NPM: Day 5)

For National Poetry Month, I've been doing daily posts of tabs I had open on my desktop. Sometimes I save things for a very long time because I have plans to reread them or want to use them as mentor texts. Sure, I could bookmark them to come back later, but I tell myself that keeping them visible will make me more likely to return to them. Somehow posting them on my blog has enabled me to close many of the windows this week. Call it spring cleaning.

Here are the week's posts:
On Monday I posted an Andrew Peterson song, "To All the Poets."
On Tuesday I became an Irene Latham fangirl, posting links to several of her posts I'd saved. I also added an original poem I wrote using one of hers as a mentor text.
On Wednesday I wrote about Tracy K. Smith's poetry podcast. (I didn't close this window, though.)
On Thursday I posted about memorizing poems, with an essay by Billy Collins and a YouTube channel chronicling Steven Wasserman's memorization project.

Today's poem is one I first encountered in the Poem-a-Day email. (You can sign up for that here.) I love how Ada Limón uses the metaphor of spring, making it not just about rebirth and renewal but about healing and persistence and not quitting.

Instructions on Not Giving Up
Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

I love a spring poem with a little edge to it like this one.  I paired two spring poems in this post back in 2010, one by Edna St. Vincent Millay which is sharp and bitter, and another by Gerard Manley Hopkins, gushing about how lovely it all is (though Hopkins certainly wrote lots of much darker poems). This one seems sort of in-between, with its surprising word choices like "obscene" and "shoving," "shock" and "aftermath," but then its (sort of) hopeful acceptance at the end: "a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite/ the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,/ I'll take it..."

I've been enjoying the NPM activities.  Today's Progressive Poem line is here. Mine is coming up on Sunday! Here's the full schedule:

2 Kat @ Kathryn Apel
4 Jone @ DeoWriter
5 Linda @ TeacherDance
6 Tara @ Going to Walden
8 Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @ Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @ Live Your Poem
12 Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @ Dori Reads
17 Amy @ The Poem Farm
18 Linda @ A Word Edgewise
20 Buffy @ Buffy's Blog
21 Michelle @ Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @ Reading to the Core
25 Jan @ Bookseestudio
26 Linda @ Write Time
27 Sheila @ Sheila Renfro
29 Irene @ Live Your Poem


Irene Latham said...

"I'll take it all." I love that line! Looking forward to your Sunday line, Ruth... love all the ways you're infusing your life (and ours!) with poetry this month. xo

Linda B said...

I'm looking forward to your Sunday line, too, Ruth, and love this post, full of spring! Finally we have some bits of color emerging, will soon become Limon's "confetti of aftermath." I do love her poetry, glad you shared this one, an homage to the leaves, "patient, plodding". Thanks, and Happy Friday!

jama said...

Thanks for sharing Limon's poem (new to me). I do like the "edge" as you mentioned. I'll be thinking of leaves differently now. . .

Alice Nine said...

Thanks for sharing Limon's poem. I hadn't thought of persistence as part of spring; I like that thought. I like how Limon expresses it in this line: "Patient, plodding, a green skin / growing over whatever winter did to us,..."

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath

I raked sweetgum balls a few weeks ago, and my yard is full again. Maybe if I think of them in this way, I will enjoy the process a little more :)

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

I didn't know about that progressive poem -- how cool!!
(Also laughing about the tabs -- I do the same thing!)

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

O.M.G. I SO need to take on your spring cleaning NPM project as my own! Seriously, Ruth, what I great idea. I'd probably be set up for blog posts for the next three months! "Instructions on Not Giving Up" is extraordinary.

Whispers from the Ridge said...

I needed these "instructions for not giving up." That line about what "winter did to us" has such a deeper meaning. This poem reminds me to take the bad with the good. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

Linda Mitchell said...

I love how much the leaves have to say in the whole's like they are the backstage people that make sure the show can go on. These lines: "Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living"

are wonderful! Happy Poetry Month to you.

Buffy Silverman said...

I highlighted the same line as Linda as I was reading: a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us--
I love that (and in Michigan we are still waiting to grow our green skin.)