Thursday, February 05, 2015

How Things Happen

The swathes of poison oak are finally fading from our bodies.  The flu has been weaving through the nights, and some small sneaking louse stays relentlessly.  The two year old has swallowed her recent bright language for furious screams, constantly erupting.

Tonight, preparing for writing group in the morning, I rediscovered this poem by Marie Howe, and I, too, remembered, "this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture/ after gesture..."

From Nowhere

I think the sea is a useless teacher, pitching and falling
no matter the weather, when our lives are rather lakes

unlocking in a constant and bewildering spring.  Listen,
a day comes, when you say what all winter

I've been meaning to ask, and a crack booms and echoes
where ice had seemed solid, scattering ducks

and scaring us half to death.  In Vermont, you dreamed
from the crown of a hill and across a ravine

you saw lights so familiar they might have been ours 
shining back from the future.

And waking, you walked there, to the real place, 
and when you saw only trees, came back bleak

with a foreknowledge we have both come to believe in.
But this morning, a kind day has descended, from nowhere,

and making coffee in the usual way, measuring grounds
with the wooden spoon, I remembered, 

this is how things happen, cup by cup, familiar gesture
after gesture, what else can we know of safety

or of fruitfulness?  We walk with mincing steps within
a thaw as slow as February, wading through currants

that surprise us with their sudden warmth.  Remember, 
last week you woke still whistling for a bird

that had miraculously escaped its cage, and look, today, 
a swallow has come to settle behind this rented rain gutter, 

gripping a twig twice his size in his beak, staggering
under its weight, so delicately, so precariously, it seems

from here, holding all he knows of hope in his mouth.

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