we can do it together

I'm quite taken with the idea of carrying around poems to share, as the Academy of American Poets would have us do. Today, National Poem In Your Pocket Day, I shared! Trumpeted some poems out on Facebook and Twitter, naturally. And I made copies of poems and distributed them--personally, not by mailbox--at work. I could hear my co-workers thinking "weirdo!" Or maybe they weren't. Either way, it felt cool to direct people's attention to the written word, a POEM for crying out loud.

Truth be told, I'm also really taken in this moment with thoughts and memories of my early mentor, Siv Cedering. I searched out information about her last night as I was preparing to share one of her poems here. I didn't know she had died; she did, in 2007. She wrote poems and novels and plays and children's books, in Swedish and English. She was a translator. (One of the courses I took with her at Pitt was about poetry translation.) She was a widely exhibited sculptor and painter. She emigrated to San Francisco from Sweden as a teenager and lived in upstate New York in her last years.

Mostly, I'm taken by how intensely different my reading of Siv's poetry feels upon a re-visit by the grown-up me, the mother me. Reading her poetry now, as a woman beginning to notice that I am getting older. I know, everything looks different now. But this is striking and wonderful. She must have been in her mid-40's when I knew her, that's where I am now.

I promise to stop publishing other people's poems and get back to my own writing. But for tonight, I am compelled to share one more.

Night and Day

"Look at the pigeons," you say
And we watch a flock
Fly out over the street, to loop
Back toward the roofs, showing first
The soft gray of their bellies,
Then their darker side.

In Escher's woodcut,
The light birds fly toward a dark
Town while the spaces between them
Are dark birds flying toward a light
Town. I have lived with Night and
Day for years. Now that I am aware

Of my aging, only such opposites
Make sense. Like Ann, I will stand
In a dark pool, observing how my light
Skin, and the muscles beneath,
Are changing. Everyone is aging.
And yet, when I stand here looking up,

I am aware of the dark space
Under the light skin of my belly,
Our child, and the light that would
Fly, in the dark of his eyes,
As he lifts his face toward the sky,
Because you say: "Look at the pigeons." 

The book this poem is published in (see post below) bears the inscription: For my son, who once said, "People are lucky, but birds have wings," for my daughters, always, and for David Swickard, with love. (Siv translated a children's book written by David Swickard called Pearl's Adventure.) 

One more thing. Tonight, our daughter was talking about wanting to climb up high in the big climbing structure at the Children's Museum. She asked if we remembered that she climbed all the way to the top last year. Our son, who is older--he's six-and-a-half and she just turned four--started saying that the climbing structure made him nervous and he was afraid of being up that high. She said, firmly: "I'll be there with you." When he said okay but hesitated, she repeated, FIRMLY, "All you need to know is that I'll be there with you. We can do it together." She took his hand and said it again, and again. 




What explanation is given for the phosphorus light
That you, as boy, went out to catch
When summer dusk turned to night?
You caught the fireflies, put them in a jar,
Careful to let in some air,
Then you fed them dandelions, unsure
Of what such small and fleeting things
Need, and when
Their light grew dim, you
    Let them go.
There is no explanation for the fire
That burns in our bodies
Or the desire the grows, again and again,
So that we must move toward each other 
In the dark.
We have no wings.
We are ordinary people, doing ordinary things.
The story can be told on rice paper.
There is a lantern, a mountain, whatever
    We can remember.
Hiroshige's landscape is so soft.
What child, woman, would not want to go out
Into that dark, and be caught,
And caught again, by you?
I want these pictures of the floating world
To go on, but when
The light begins to dim, catch me.
Give me whatever a child imagines
To keep me aglow, then
    Let me go.

Siv Cedering, from Letters from the Floating World: New and Selected Poems (1984: University of Pittsburgh Press). Siv Cedering was a visiting poet when I was in college. I enrolled in every poetry writing seminar she offered. Siv was brilliant, feisty, beautiful, passionate. I can still hear her voice reading her poems, I can see her throw her head back, that mane of hair, her laugh. She influenced me enormously. She helped me learn and use my words, really to come into myself.


watch this space

Days like today remind me how lucky I really am. Perfect spring day, we took a quick junket to Shelburne Falls to soak up the sun and the fresh breeze. "Roll down your windows and let the wind blow back your hair," indeed. My beautiful children, running around. Favorite pizza and salad. The Bridge of Flowers. Favorite place.

We married ourselves at the potholes in Shelburne Falls under a frigid bright evening sky, March 8, 2003. And we take every chance we can get to run up there and fool around. Today, we started out too late to ride the trolley. Next time.

Mole Hollow Candles there by the potholes is closed, totally vacant. And the glass blower is no longer there. I always wondered how Mole Hollow Candles could survive in the land of Yankee Candle. Location, I guess. But honestly, I don't think I ever purchased anything there. Oh, maybe once. And I certainly never purchased any blown glass products, though I have watched and appreciated over and over.

My progression to this blog has been long. For quite some time, Facebook and Twitter satisfied my need to speak my peace and nourish my mind with the constant flow and exchange of information and ideas. But the urge to write and share is strong, so here I am, with my very own soapbox, er, blog.

Here's what the kids look like on the first day of mama's new blog.