Friday, May 2, 2008

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

This is on my list of essential poems, but few people seem to have read it, maybe because it's newer than some. I got up thinking of it this morning, because it's one of those days when I have about 50 little things to do, none of which I look forward to. As an underemployed person, I can't just say "oh, I'm too busy today; I'll do that later" (in fact, I've drifted through this week in some sort of preoccupied feeling of abstraction already, which is why I need to do the 50 things before 5 pm today). Just as a sample, some of the things include: calling the local guy who sold me vinyl flooring to inquire about how it should be glued down, and then relaying that information to the vinyl flooring installer who will be here tomorrow, canceling an American Express-sponsored credit card I got when I told the check-in person at a Westin Hotel "sure" when she asked if I wanted their Starwood Preferred Guest card, approving time sheets for my student workers, who are leaving for the summer and some of who failed to submit the time sheets for my approval by the deadline set by Accounting, returning something I bought from a catalog that didn't fit right, baking a birthday cake for a family friend's birthday party tonight, putting flea drops on the cats, hanging up everyone's laundry, etc. I think it's the laundry that made me think of Richard Wilbur's poem this morning. I'm wishing that I had woken up with the feeling he evokes:

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
"Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

"Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.''

I woke up, as I think mothers often do, with a full awareness of everything I "was about to remember...the punctual rape of every blessed day." It would take more sleep than I got, and probably a feeling that more things had been done than still needed doing, to produce the kind of sleep that lets you wake up with the initially drifting feeling of this poem.

And yes, I do know the grammatical rule about using "whom," but I don't advocate the use of the word and won't use it myself, lest I become an even fiercer pen-wielder in the spirit urged on us by the writer of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

Six words to describe me today: fierce, hungry, under-appreciated, running, yearning, singing

1 comment:

Libby said...

gorgeous poem!

(I did the meme today--thanks!)