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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Morning Devotion

Why Regret?
Galway Kinnell

Didn't you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating off the glue?
Weren't you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?
Wasn't it a revelation to waggle from the estuary
all the way up the river, the pirle,
the kill, the run, the brook, the beck,
the sike gone dry, to the shock of a spring?
Didn't you almost shiver, hearing the book lice
clicking their sexual syncopation inside the old
Webster's New International -- perhaps having just
eaten out of it izle, xyster, thalassacon?
What did you imagine lay in store anyway
at the end of a world whose sub-substance is
ooze, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?
Don't worry about becoming emaciated -- think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.
Didn't it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back split open
and the imago, the true adult, somersaulted
out backwards and took flight
toward the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,
alimentary canal unfit to digest food,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?
Or when Casanova threw the linguine in squid ink
out the window, telling his startled companion,
"The perfected lover does not eat."
As a child didn't you find it calming to think
of the pinworms as some kind of tiny batons
giving cadence to the squeezes and releases
around the downward march of debris?
Didn't you once glimpse what seemed your
own inner blazonry in the monarchs, wobbling
and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?
Weren't you reassured at the thought that these flimsy,
hinged beings might navigate their way to Mexico
by the flair of the dead bodies of ancestors
who fell in the same migration a year ago?
Isn't it worth missing whatever joy
you might have dreamed, to wake in the night and find
you and your beloved are holding hands in your sleep?

Reading and re-reading, writing down and again re-reading this poem is my act of devotion for this morning. This is my church, right here, my sacred and safe space. I can allow myself to feel exalted and overwhelmed by doubt, hopeful and despairing, because I know words like these are strong enough to hold me up. When a day can start like this, why regret indeed?


Blogger Maven said...

Was just stalking Galway Kinnell books on Amazon a few hours ago. I heard a program with him and Josephine Dickinson on Minnesota Public Radio a week or two ago, and hearing him read a poem about his friend Jane Kenyon's death just undid me to death--I could barely drive. (If I refer to hearing something on the radio it's safe to assume I was in the car at the time.)

May 06, 2007  

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