It is rare that such poetry-inspiring events as the appearance in the heavens of a wryly-winking full moon, Passover, and Easter Sunday all coalesce. . . early during National Poetry Month.
Maurice Sendak grumpily may despise the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series of books (“If you give a mouse a cookie, you’re an idiot,” he barked at interviewer Stephen Colbert), but I consider them a kind of chaos theory for kids, and confess to being a fan of their approach to each crowded day’s hardly as-the-crow-flies events.
In addition, I suspect that series’ message holds particular sway for people like me, who can obsess about some goals until the bitter end, while rambling and wandering in disengagement at other tasks–usually the ordinary chores, at work and at home (if one is blessed to have either or both), which accompany each day.
I may think I yearn for those laundry-sorting days now, unmatched clusters of brightly-patterns wee socks strewn across the bed. But among the things which my melancholoy self truly misses are the interruptions–like that occasioned by hearing the radio story of a boy who grew up to build a time machine, and then seeking out my husband to tell him about it.
And of course, underlying all that former regularity in resentment-tinged daily drudgery was contentment I can see only in looking back: I possessed not just a hope for, but an assumption of a future in which my husband and I would see these kind, bright children grow up and go off on their own adventures, unmarked by the kind of events which have come to pass and which even a worry wart like I never would have foreseen at the end of even the most chaotic chain of events.
I could tell my husband I hadn’t been able to finish an anniversary quilt for him, and he could assure me: “That’s OK. You can try to finish it by our 30th,” and both of us could go on tackling the daily chaos, assuming that a years’-distant wedding anniversary–and decades beyond that–would be there for us.
Of course, life is full of intriguing coincidences if one cares to trace their labyrinthine trails.
Late last night I observed a confluence, the threads of which I have not yet followed: I realized that a favorite poet, a favorite author of non-fiction, and a favorite writer of short-stories all come from different nations (Poland, Germany, and Italy, respectively), but have in common, against enormous odds in their circumstances, having survived Nazi occupation.
Perhaps it also is true, as Samuel Johnson once observed, that the prospect of a man’s death within “a fortnight. . . concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
Czeslaw Milosz wrote A Mistake:
I thought: all this is only preparation
For learning, at last, how to die
Mornings and dusks, in the grass under a maple
Laura sleeping without pants on, on a headrest of raspberries,
While Filon, happy, washes himself in the stream.
Mornings and years. Every glass of wine,
Laura, and the sea, land, and archipelago
Bring us nearer, I believed, to one aim
And should be used with a thought to that aim.
But a paraplegic in my street
Whom they move together with his chair
From shade into sunlight, sunlight into shade,
Looks at a cat, a leaf, the chrome steel on an auto,
And mumbles to himself, “Beau temps, beau temps.”
It is true. We have a beautiful time
As long as time is time at all.