Friday, July 12, 2019

Poetry Friday: Moments

On July 2nd the daily poem from (The Academy of American Poets) was a sonnet called "While Waiting for the Bus," by Khalil Eliot Wilson. I used to find very easy to navigate, and now I can't find anything there, but I do still get a daily poem email from them. I tried very hard to link to it, but finally gave up and have posted it here in its entirety.

While Waiting for the Bus
by Khalil Eliot Wilson

Under the eaves of the gas-mart - swallows
fall into the day, wheel before the headless
grooms of the formal wear shop, angle low
as my shoes, then comet up, sheer, careless
of traffic, all that is grounded or down.
A flight of leaf-blown cursives, blue coats
over dashing white, the red-rift of dawn
painted upon their crowns and busy throats.
I must learn to keep them with me, to hold,
somehow, their accomplished joy when I'm gone
to the city where I am mostly old
and their song, under the noise of hours, is done.
But now, auto exhaust cripples the air
as my grey somnambulant bus draws near.

What I love about this poem is the way it captures a moment, a moment involving both nature and human life, a moment which would have just passed by if Wilson hadn't captured it in words. Poetry seems uniquely able to do that - well, poetry and photography, but I love to share this quote with my students from someone called Jarod Kintz: "A picture is worth a thousand words, but is 400% less valuable, because a picture only captures one of the senses - sight. However, words can describe the other four senses, making writing four times more potent than photography."

Often these days when I go to write something, my first step is to look through photos. (Here's a post I wrote during National Poetry Month on how I use photography in my writing.) The photo fixes the memories for me enough to help me write about what I saw and experienced.

At a thrift shop I found Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison, by Ted Kooser. Kooser explains in his preface that in the winter of 1998 he took daily walks early in the morning, avoiding the sun because he had just had a course of radiation treatment for his cancer. He had gone a while without writing or even reading, but inspired by the moments of his walks, he started working on poems again, and soon was putting them on postcards to his friend Jim Harrison. I love these for the same reason as I loved Wilson's sonnet. Here's the poem from December 3rd:

I have been sitting here resting
after my morning stroll, and the sun
in its soft yellow work gloves
has come in through the window
and is feeling around on the opposite wall,
looking for me, having seen me
cheerfully walking along the road
just as it rose, having followed me home
to see what I have to be happy about.

Ted Kooser

You have to capture these happy moments, don't you? You have to write about them, or snap a picture so you can write about them later, or at least take them in, all the way, breathe them in and then keep them with you as you move into the day.
Here's a moment I captured this morning, that brave pink flower hanging on even though the bugs have eaten away the leaves into a lacy nothing. I'll write about it later, maybe...

Here's today's roundup.


Linda B said...

I love the first, that one moment as you wrote, captured. And I discovered Kooser's Winter Morning Walks at my library one day & then got myself a copy I loved it so much. Most days I do morning walks, & write or sketch a bit, love that Kooser has inspired me in that way. Nice to read your own musings about it, Ruth.

Linda Mitchell said...

Oh, my goodness---the swallows fall into the day. And, the soft yellow work gloves of the sun. Stunning captures. Just like a stunning photograph. Inspires me to try again to capture.

Cheriee Weichel said...

I am not acquainted with Ted Kooser's poetry, but feel a need to find and read some now, especially after reading your post and Linda's comment.
I appreciate your remarks about photographs fixing memories. As I write my memoir, I long for captured images, but there are none to be found.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, I love everything about your post and would like to share it during my professional development sessions with teachers. As you know, I am fond of using photography to open my eyes to the beauty of words that drip with poetic goodness. Here iis the line that showcases morning in all its glory:
the red-rift of dawn
painted upon their crowns and busy throats.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, I think your prose could be a poem leading into the photo you took, maybe a haibun. Would you be interested in sending me what you created or will create for my summer gallery?

Mary Lee said...

I loved and saved that poem this week, too! Every detail of this ordinary moment...but in a SONNET!!! Wow.

Kay said...

I love this reflection on savoring the moments. I find myself snapping photographs to remember moments and am starting to browse through them for poetry inspiration. Even if a poem doesn't come, I find myself just stopping to soak in moments and enjoy them before they slip away.

Michelle Kogan said...

I hope the poem comes out of your petals…Thanks for these two lovely poetry moment poems Ruth, and the pic too!