April 3, 2014

Bright Things

Bits of forsythia light up my rooms this week: raggedy sticks in a raku jar, a single branch in a hollowed-out stone. They feel necessary this long winter, reminders that under the snow things are shifting.
Image by jlburgess, courtesy stockxchg

Often I forget about this kind of near-invisible shifting, which in some ways is okay, given that much of the shifting under snow in the city's alleys and gutters is dogshit and garbage.

But then, something whispers to me from a plastic pail of water behind the stack of discounted cookies in the grocery store, or trips me up in front of the recycling bin, or lures me away from the direct line to my car after work, toward its unmistakeable flush, and I feel a sympathetic flutter.  If I were a dog I'd wag my tail.

I confess, it's not always like that. There are whispers I say No! to, tugs-toward I shrug away. Don't ask why: I don't know! Possibly it's laziness. What I do know is this: ignore something that calls to you long enough, and it will turn up when you least expect it, a gift disguised as a cornered animal.

This both is and is not how I found the poems of Mary Ruefle. They brighten my rooms and trip me up in a way. In "After a Rain," for instance: the echoes of mermaids and Emily Dickinson, the bright details that almost distract from the strands that stir underneath them.

Image by hamletnc, courtesy stockxchg


Mary Ruefle
AFTER A RAIN

They noticed, you see, that I was a noticing
kind of person, and so they left the dictionary
out in the rain and I noticed it,
I noticed it was open to the rain page,
much harm had come to it, it had aged to the age
of ninety-five paper years and I noticed rainbow
follows rain in the book, just as it does on
earth, and I noticed it was silly of me to
notice so much but I noticed there is no stationery
in heaven, I noticed an infant will grip your hand like
there is no tomorrow, while the very aged
will give you a weightless hand for the same reason,
I noticed in a loving frenzy that some are hemlocked
and others are not (believe me yours unspeakably obliged),
I noticed whoever I met in my search for entrance
into this world went too far (but that was their
destination) and I noticed the road followed roughly
the route of a zipper around a closed case,
I noticed the sea was human but no one believed me,
and that some birds have the wingspan of an inch
and some flowers the petal span of a foot yet the two
are very well suited to each other, I noticed that.
There are eight major emotional states but I forget
seven of them, I can hear the ambulance singing
but I do not think it will stop for me,
because I noticed the space between the waterfall and
the rock and I am safe there, resting in
the cradle of all there is, the way a sea horse
(when it is tired) will tie its tail to a seaweed
and rest, and there has not been, in my opinion,
enough astonishment over this fact, so now I will
withdraw my interest in the whole external world
while I am in the noticing mode, notice how I
talk to you just as if you were sitting in my lap
and not as if it were raining, not as if there were
a sheet of water between us or anything else.


(from Selected Poems. Reproduced with permission of Wave Books)


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