Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CHICKORY backstory


An old friend from my Forestville days, Pat Bond, emailed me what she called, a small, lovely poem she'd found, and because I use a different sensibility when I read poetry, I merely skimmed it, and put off really reading it until later.

When I read prose, I tend to skim, plucking object and subject, verb and noun from the confines of the sentence and I shake off the excess dross of  articles, particles adverbs & adjectives like a wet dog emerging form the pond.

It's a curious way to read and sometimes I have to backtrack because I missed an operational word and the sentence takes on a surreal quality like bicycle-riding fish, but it allows me to read rapidly and to  more or less understand what I read.

Odd for a dyslexic to be a speed reader, but that, I am. I rip through pulp fiction and articles with ease but when it comes to poetry, it's another matter. I have to find the time to slow down in this increasingly speeded up world. Not an easy thing to do.

Well, weeks went by before I found the time to really read the poem. It reminded me of something I'd written. Imagine my surprise when I re-read a poem I'd written some 30 years ago! I was given the gift to read it disassociated from the confines of self, as if I'd never seen it before. I read it anew and was pleasantly surprised. I liked the poem before I knew it was mine. 

Then I was transported back in time to the moment when I first conceived the poem, driving up 101 to Healdsburg, watching the chickory in full bloom whizz by the speeding car in a blue blur.

I thought of Frost's adage that poetry should both amaze and delight the senses. Epiphany laden, I realized that this is how we should always  approach our own work (and the work of others), as if anew, or from across the distance of time to see it for what it really is and not burden it with all the baggage and preconceived notions of ego and angst.

Maybe this moment was made more poignant because the other day, I also uncovered and scanned some plein air scratchboard & india ink drawings I'd done in the mid-nineties. I discovered that the distance of time is good tool for artistic objectivity. A pity it takes so long as I don't think I will live quite long enough to gain that kind of profound objectivity for my current work!

CHICKORY

In a field of chickory,
I wanted to wander
and pluck enough petals
to fill my lap with blue
until the sky came down
to reclaim the patchwork
of its small silken self.

The nonsense we've collected
has all the hidden answers
& we fall into a muddle
of vicious stars.
I am slowly calling
the fallen leaves,
wet with rain faces.

I saw a piece of sky
blow across that field
until there was nothing
left of spring.