Friday, August 8, 2014

Poetry Friday: For the Children

I must say, it's been an amazing summer. For many reasons. Chief amongst them, probably the fact that I've spent so many great moments with my children. I don't reflect too often on the metaphysical aspects of parenthood. What am I leaving them with? What will they remember? Just keep them happy, make memories, and teach them to be good people...those are my tenets, I suppose. And I'm ok with that.

Making memories with the kids--Real Madrid v. Manchester United @ Michigan Stadium

I found a poem today by Gary Oliver and it resonates on many levels, but it definitely speaks to what I'd like my children to be able to say they learned from me someday. Oliver says it better than me, so I'll get to the poem...

"For the Children"
By Gary Oliver

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

Read the rest of the poem (the ending's worth it!!!) at The Writer's Almanac. If you like it as much as I do, you'll probably find yourself reading it several times.

Glad to make a return to Poetry Friday, which today is being rounded up at A Year of Reading. Check out all the other amazing posts being shared there today.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Reflections on a Gift

So, for reasons too numerous to list right now, I'm making some very strong efforts toward discovering happiness in life. They're going exceptionally well but, like anything in the realm of self-improvement, only time will tell. I've got plenty of cause to feel confident, though.

One thing I'm attempting to do is bring things into my life that make me happy. Poetry has always been one of these things, so it's making a return to my life rather than a debut.

It's amazing how turning to poetry can help one navigate pretty much any emotion in existence. Whether it's coping with loss, celebrating a birth, or the happiness and joys of every day life. There's a poem out there for it all.

As I find myself excited by the possibilities that life has to offer for the first time in a long time, I want to share a poem that brought me happiness today.

"Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity"
By John Tobias

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
    (Hollowed out
    Fitted with straws
    Crammed with tobacco
    Stolen from butts
    In family ashtrays)
Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;
During that summer--
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was--
Watermelons ruled.
Thick imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;
And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.
The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.
But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

Does this make you happy, too? Something about the innocence and nostalgia. Or the imagery. Or the idea of preserving our youth. And it has a sweet ending, which you know I love. It also reminds me of one of my other all-time-favorites by Gary Soto.
I apologize for publishing this poem in its entirety. I try to be a responsible digital citizen when it comes to copyright. May the poetry gods absolve me of this sin.
So here's to happiness. And poetry. And life. I'll be back soon with more to share.

photo credit: Wendy Longo photography via photopin cc