08 March 2013

Linguistic Comforts

Last year for my birthday, I received a gift card for a bookstore.  After spending it in my mind a dozen or more times, I finally settled on Volume One of New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver.  I did this in spite of knowing that it was somewhat ludicrous to imagine even a reader like myself sitting down to read more than 250 pages of poetry.  I mean, who does that?  And so, recognizing the limits of time in the crazy-busy life of a full-time mother-wife-teacher-writer, I hatched a plan to read a poem a day.  Just one.  Each day.

Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s I started my daily poetry dose.  I flip to a random page, usually in the morning before the rest of the house is awake.  It’s just me and dear Mary, a fellow lover of words and nature.  Each poem, while chosen par hasard, speaks to me, symbolic somehow of each day’s specific challenges.  And that was before my challenges included words like carcinoma and recovery, choices like surgery or radiation, and an intimate knowledge of JP drains.

How fitting, on the day after my surgery, to read:

stroke by
stroke my
body remembers that life and cries for
the lost parts of itself -

Or to find this lesson as I was contemplating mortality - my own, specifically - and trying to cradle it in my palms without quaking:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

It isn’t surprising to me that words should and do provide comfort - we’re wired for this a linguistic and social species.  But what has been a blessing, each and every day, is to find meaning and connection and universality in each poem.  What a gift it has been to myself and my own sanity to feel the imprint of this voice upon my very soul.



No comments:

Post a Comment