Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So little is a stone

Amber Schley Iragui © 2015

B U R N I N G   T H E   O L D   Y E A R
Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

*    *    *    *    *

It has been raining and raining and I'm having a hard time adjusting. I know that's what it does here: rain. I was born here; I lived here till I was twenty-five. But after fifteen years in New York—with the sun, and snow, and occasional thunderstorms—it's hard not to feel it is just too wet, too deeply damp, outside right now. I lay in bed and think about hibernation, of crawling into a warm little cave and sleeping until spring. A cave with a fireplace, and clearly a mantle, and a deep soft chair, and some books—and then we're basically dreaming about hibernating in my own house. My house but a little farther away from everything; away from the passing cars and the bouncing children.

But I like the sound of the rain, I admit. I like the sound on the roof of my office, now, as I write this.

I didn't watch the State of the Union address this evening. I only know that this event took place because, while the kids were falling asleep, I checked Facebook and there were all sorts of postings about it. And it occurs to me that I doubt I've ever heard a State of the Union address. Not one I can remember, at least. And similarly, when David Bowie died a few days ago—alerted again by multitudinous Facebook postings—I could not bring his voice to mind, or any song of his I knew. Disturbingly, his face is mostly familiar to me because a friend of mine owns a David Bowie doll that she dresses up posts photos of on Instagram. And so it seems to me that as far as popular culture and politics go, I'm pretty much hibernating all the time.

Which is not to say that I don't pay attention to things. I do, but just to a select few things. And to those things I pay close attention. For example: dreams, typography, the birds I see in the neighborhood. I pay attention to my children, not always what they say as much as how they seem to be doing. I pay attention to the plants in my kitchen window, and to book covers, and New Yorker cartoons; I take note of new authors and wait for their names to appear and reappear before I buy their books. I have been paying attention to what's been happening in Syria and Iraq, and watching the refugees streaming into Turkey and Eastern Europe and worrying for them. But I can't, you know, take it all in. There is far too much to pay attention to and I live in this small stucco house with lots of windows, under skies heavy with rain, and have small growing things to tend.

{ Julia's poetry wednesday post }


Kevin Scherer said...

SO wonderful... thank you for picking up the "pen" again :)

Julia said...

This is definitely one of the uses of Facebook for me, that it alerts me to all the things I otherwise would not pay attention to, like the death of rock stars. David Bowie in particular didn't hold a personal connection for me but I did find it kind of touching to see what he meant to some of my Facebook friends. I guess we are both doomed to live a life out of sync with the zeitgeist and that's why we need each other's company.

We had many days of rain here over the holidays and it really bothered me after a while. Maybe I'll stick to visiting the PNW in the summer only.

A M B E R said...

Thank you Kevin! It's nice to know there are people who read this beside Julia and some robots in Russia!

Evelina said...

Just so you know, if you see some notifications from Germany, it's not a robot ;). I am happy you and Julia are doing those poetry-photography days again!