Gratitude, Day 11: Poetry

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

This is not the November I expected it to be.

Yesterday I had a conversation with Sicily in France about the current election situation. We talked about the writing on the wall and how hard it was for the French to understand why she didn’t really want to get out of bed on November 9th. Today I also read, against my better judgment, a slew of racist and abusive texts as well as testimonials about people of color and Muslims being attacked and told to leave (or in the case of one Muslim woman’s encounter, hang herself with her own hijab).

It seems grim days are ahead.

But as ever, there are things to be thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for poetry.

I keep hearing Wendell Berry in my head today:

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

I am so thankful today for the music in words.

I am grateful for the beauty that poets see, as well as the despair they so eloquently express.

Feelings like pictures on the page, leaping in swirls whether written or typed.

In poems we can come into the peace of wild things even in the midst of the deepest anguish and anxiety and fear. We need not be in the middle of the woods to rest in the grace of the world but can instead rest in the grace of the words of men and women who have written before us.

This day I think of the simple promise of the sun rising just as it has for as long as we know, and I leave you with Mary Oliver’s “Morning Poem.”

Morning Poem
Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

And finally, it seems appropriate here to quote the genius Leonard Cohen whose death was announced just last night in another heinous crime against humanity:

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is the ash.”

Go easy, Leonard Cohen.

What are you grateful for?