I will never recover from your love

From one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye:

“What People Do”

November    November     November    the days crowd together
like families of leaves    in a dry field
I pick up a round stone     take it to my father
who lies in bed waiting for his heart to mend
and he turns it over and over in his hands

My father is writing me the story of his village
He tells what people did    in another country
before I was born how his best friend was buried alive
and the boy survived two days in the ground
how my father was lowered into a well on ropes to discover
clay jars a thousand years old    how each jar held seeds
carob and melon    and the villagers chose secrecy
knowing the British would come with trucks and dig up their town

My father’s handwriting changes from page to page
sometimes a wild scrawl and disconnected letters
sometimes a new serious upward slant

And me    I travel the old roads again and again
wearing a different life in a house surrounded by trees
At night the dropping pecans make little clicks above us
Doors closing

More and more I understand what people do
I appreciate the daily braveries    clean white shirts
morning greetings between old men

Again I see how    once the boat tips    you never forget
the sensation of drowning
even if you sing yourself the familiar songs

Today my face is stone    my eyes are buckets
I walk the streets lowering them into everything
but they come up empty

I would tell my father
I cannot move one block without you
I will never recover from your love
yet I stand by his bed saying things I have said before
and he answers and we go on this way
smoothing the silences
nothing can heal

and make a little feast for them

Happy Thanksgiving, dear Readers.  Today the lovely California writer, Joseph Stroud, reminds us that there is much to be grateful for, not the least of which is a poet’s ability to serve us a carefully chosen feast of images, a profound taste of life.

“Homage to Life”

It is good to have chosen
a living home
and harbored time
in a constant heart,
to have seen one’s hands
touch the world
as an apple
in a small garden,
to have loved the earth,
the moon and the sun,
like old friends
beyond any others,
and to have entrusted
the world to memory
like a luminous horseman
to his black steed,
to have given shape
to these words: wife, children,
and to have served as a shore
for roving continents,
to have come upon the soul
with little oarstrokes
for it is frightened
by a sudden approach.
It is good to have known
the shade under the leaves
and to have felt age
steal over the naked body
accompanying the grief
of dark blood in our veins
and glazing its silence
with the star, Patience,
and to have all these words
stirring in the head,
to choose the least beautiful
and make a little feast for them,
to have felt life
rushed and ill-loved,
to have held it
in this poetry.

We have lived our own death a thousand times

From Robert Bly’s newest book, Talking into the Ear of a Donkey:

cover of Robert Bly's book, Talking into the Ear of a Donkey

“Ravens Hiding in a Shoe”

There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother’s sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.