Monday, August 20, 2007

Poem of the Month, Week, Night

Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
--Mary Oliver

I know this POEM OF THE WEEK is long overdue. Life has been happening, as it will, when you think you have time for rest or peace.

I chose this piece for a few reasons. I have been making my way back to Mary Oliver this summer. Her work is bucolic and wondrous and all the things I only dream of as a poet. I am not now nor will I ever be a "nature" poet. I think Oliver brings honor to the term, as it has taken much flack during the last decade, but what else can you call a poet who sings of egrets and mushrooms and trout and crickets with little 'mouth-caves'? She seems to find her peace in the land around her. I find peace in her peace.

Last night, a Nor'Easter blew through town and gave my little house a thrashing. I woke to all kinds of debris (most notably, two shopping carts from the store across the street and a sign) on my lawn strewn about the yard. The rain beat so loudly I couldn't sleep, and I can always sleep.

But it was good, cleansing, and on time. Each year since I've been here, all through my time in undergraduate school, a Nor'Easter blows through to welcome the first day of classes. It's like clock work and no one else seems to notice. Last night, I was in bed and kept looking out the window--waiting. I couldn't sleep until the rain came and then couldn't sleep because of it. I listened to it, tossed and turned, prayed a bit in the dark.

What a trying week it has been. The good always heaped in with the bad. Bennington lost Liam Rector last week. He was the center of the vortex and much of the community is spiraling now. What a strange and sad loss for all of us.

I chose Oliver's poem because I have been reading her newest book, Why I Wake Early, and have determined that she is the supreme optimist. I am trying to be both those things. In the poem above, everything leads back to everything else; we are all connected whether we know it or not. Every journey is our journey, Oliver is right, and in the midst of thunder and lightning and morning and rain, what a wondrous journey it is.