A Momentary Stay Against Confusion

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost, long after he had written this poem, defined poetry in part as “a momentary stay against confusion.” In the first minutes after I woke this morning, the day after the Brussels attacks, my mind wandered, caught on the events we had learned about, the pictures we watched on the news last night. Then, as I imagined the anguish, the horrors that will/can never be erased, this poem came into my mind and ran itself over and over, like a mantra.

There is part of each of us that lives in those who were closest to the bombs, whose lives were destroyed, in those who try to live and survive with terrible wounds.

“One wonders if the center will hold,” Tom said as I finished saying the poem for him later in the day.

The poem I put in our Poetry Box the day before the attacks, Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica,” ends with the lines:

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

“A momentary stay” that may do as little as a bomb does to heal the wrongs and the inequalities in the world, but one which does not worsen, maim, or wreak destruction.

Something’s Blooming, Something’s Just Going By

3543cebc-6946-4cb5-8d8d-dff4c0f98aaeFrench Suite #6, Bach, Sviatislav Richter. I can listen, enjoy every part, and know that I will never play it.

The last movement of Brahms’ 4th. I can help Tom hear the 8-measure melody on which all those thirty-some variations will be worked.

We are at a sushi lunch at our own table, candles lit, grateful.

Outside, the rain has stopped for a while.

I know the Star Magnolia, the blue Pulmonaria and the Azalea are there, comfortable outside the front door in the cool damp.

At the end of the driveway, the Pink Magnolia is just bursting as the Corylopsis comes to its final week for this year, the double white Hellebores by the gate go on and on, and the special Arboretum-bought viburnum behind the mailbox is ready to pop.

730a633b-7d60-41f7-9323-321e89e4f7dfI wasn’t aware quite of when it happened, but one day, I didn’t need to buy and dig in any more plants, harvest (with permission) any more stone, or moss, or invest in any more shrubs or trees.

Now, in every month, something’s blooming, something’s just going by. Wild White Violet in the not-yet-long grass of the field surprises me. I didn’t put them there; birds must have. Daffodils, some of them, mark the places where beloved pets are buried: Grey, Filch, Foon, Sam and Olga, Duchess and Milo and Sadie. Dougal has his own stone.

At lunch, we talk of Beethoven composing long after he could no longer hear. Tom says he sometimes hears music and listens as he’s going to sleep.