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Monday, January 10, 2011

Fit for the Kingdom

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Fit for the Kingdom

Just
when I am awestruck by diamonds
    on the upstanding collars of Queen Anne’s court
       each with her crown of snow

pausing

while my tinkering mind
   shuffles and sorts through word files
      for just the right writing currency

the dog

charges past on the meadow path
   rocking me like a semi on the Interstate
      and I stand, shaken, the writing spoor erased from my head

and again

farther on into the pines where she sniffs
   the pellets and wrinkled white beds of deer
      we scare up a wild turkey hidden in the boughs

above

and down upon us snow crystals
   spray like sparks from the explosion
      of her dusting thundering wings, and suddenly

awake

and empty of words, I walk on behind m'lady
    in our morning processional through the Queen’s chamber
      freshly and properly christened with a mantle of silence





Listen to a podcast of this poem here.


 This is Ara, the dog companion of my son's girlfriend, my new sometimes walking buddy.
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66 comments:

João said...

Glorious...one can almost hear your footsteps in the snow and see the little clouds your breath does.

Ruth said...

Obrigada, João! It was very cold.

Friko said...

Contrary to expectation, walking with a dog does wonders for the concentration. They will find creatures, sights and smells for us to marvel at which we might otherwise overlook, particularly when in the throes of creative birthpangs.

Enjoy your winter walks.

Elisabeth said...

There's a poem by a long dead Australian poet, C J Dennis, called The Music of her Voice. It's included in his Poems for Kids. The sentiments in Dennis's poem somehow remind of yours though they are very different poems:

A vase upon the mantelpiece,
A ship upon the sea,
A goat upon a mountain-top
Are much the same to me;
But when you mention melon jam,
Or picnics by the creek,
Or apple pies, or pantomimes,
I love to hear you speak.


The date of Magna Charta or
The doings of the Dutch,
Or capes, or towns, or verbs, or nouns
Do not excite me much;
But when you mention motor rides -
Down by the sea for choice
Or chasing games, or chocolates,
I love to hear your voice.

I listened to yours here now and I was entranced. The poem on the page is wonderful - elegant crisp and nuanced - but to hear you read it as well, Ruth, such a treat, across worlds. I love to hear your voice. Thanks.

Ginnie said...

The added gift for me, dear sister, is to actually visualize how this all happened!

Susan said...

Sweet doggie! Next thing I know, you will have your own dog for sharing your walks.

The poem is lovely. The Queen's collar stanza is perfect. Those things look so unforgiving and uncomfortable. But they look beautiful in nature.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

What a wonderful evocation of another magical moment strolling on the farm (?). There is, for me, such an important hint on how you do this in the first stanza, when you are 'awestruck' by the beauty of the snow cupped in the Queen Anne's court collars that is so well captured in the photo. Your fixation on that beauty leaves you in awe, struck wordless and almost thoughtless, though your ever busy mind has you make an initial attempt to shuffle through some word files. But then the charging truck-like dog does the rest and puts you in that exquisite state of complete surrender, absolute receptiveness, no words, no ideas, no writing currency, just living one intense momement for all you can harvest.

Later, thankfully, the words did come, and you re-create that moment for us, your grateful readers and friends, with much, much poetic skill. Beautifully done, Ruth. All so we can cherish a snowy mantle of silence. You and your mind of winter, Ruth .... ;)

George said...

This poem resonates so deeply with me, Ruth, that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose the first point I want to make is that both the architecture and the imagery of the poem are stunningly beautiful; I even find meaning of the first words of each stanza linked together: Just pausing, the dog, and again, above, awake! I suppose that stems from my belief that dogs have much wisdom to teach us. Second, and more important (though related to my first point), the essence of all great wisdom has been captured in your words, "suddenly awake and empty of words." We should carve this quote on the mantelpiece of every household as a reminder that we must empty ourselves of all words and other symbols if we are to awaken to the life that awaits us.

Thanks, Ruth. This poem is a wonderful gift.

Dan Gurney said...

What a marvelous poem! Though you were "freshly and properly christened with a mantel silence" and thus brought to the place where the Muse can be heard, we all can see that the words did come and speak to you, to us.

I just love this poem! Thank you thank you thank you. (And I borrowed a page from your book and figured out how to add voice to my poems... beginning with my latest one.)

Dutchbaby said...

This poem is arrestingly beautiful, both visually and in content. I adore the asymmetric silhouette of each stanza, all similar but not identical, all harmonious.

Queen Anne's court and her crown of snow, so beautifully back-lit in your opening photo, with the dots of browns and the blues that are so similar to your barn blue...sigh.

Thank you for taking us along on your walk. Once again, I am in awe of the wealth of your writing currency.

I'm excited to hear about Peter's girlfriend and her beautiful dog. At first I thought it was an akita, but I think they have a curly tail.

Deslilas said...

Nice dog. Bigger than mine and as crazy about the snow.
I 've posted some postcards of three French "lycée" around the Luxembourg garden on
www.deslilas.com
May be you'll recognize the one you have met in your dream.
I was a pupil in the first one and my son in the second, my grand sons are too young to be in the third.

Char said...

gorgeous poem and photographs. just gorgeous

The Bug said...

Beautiful! In that last picture I think Ara is saying - get a move on - you can reflect later!

Oliag said...

Looks like you did find your word files after all...Thank you Ruth for taking me on this walk with you and the lovely muse Ara:)

neighbor said...

Satori by dog-blast. Awesome!
:-)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful, wonderful!

Peter said...

Love the poem mom. Great imagery! I can definitely see you getting a dog one day...

Barb said...

Ara is an unusual looking Zen master! Sometimes Life gives us just the right companion to learn a valuable lesson. Your imagery is exquisite, Ruth. I also enjoyed the walk and the silence.

ds said...

More walks, please, Ruth--with or without your new companion. This is beautiful!

Loring Wirbel said...

Such elegant and delicate structure in these poems, and the picture of Ara is like a lively, sunny complement!

who said...

Ruth you are poet extraordinaire!

I must have my adobe or apple player settings set on repeat as late last night falling in and out of sleet my eyes closed at "in our morning processional through the Queen’s chamber"
Which cocked my one eye open but some time must have elapsed because I was now hearing
"spray like sparks from the explosion"

which awakened from me to come to here "the pellets and wrinkled white beds of deer"

An swear I heard some accented voice whisper "Excellent poem M'dear"

I can only assume I was dreaming

Jane Lancaster said...

Beautiful poem Ruth..so evocative...along with the photos..dreamy..

Ruth said...

Friko, it's interesting that you said that. On this first walk with Ara, for a few fleeting moments I resented her presence. I was not alone. I had to keep her in mind and be sure did not run off to the neighboring fields or ultimately to the road. It was a steady rhythm of "Ara . . ." and then "Ara!" in a louder but still affectionate call. She is a wonderful, perfect dog, and for every one of my steps she took a hundred backwards and forwards. But you're right, something awakened, as I've shared, and it was a different sight. How easy it is to walk and be too much in reverie.

Thank you.

Ruth said...

Elisabeth, the first two lines of Dennis' poem make me wonder if he began writing it after gazing on a ship in a bottle on his mantelpiece. I wonder if he was rotund? :) What a sweet, honest poem, about the power of words.

It makes me feel so good, that you love to hear my voice. Thank you for reading, listening and responding so wordfully and heartfully.

Ruth said...

Yes, Boots, you know where this is, don't you. It's the center of the universe: the meadow.

Ruth said...

Susie, if there were a guarantee that a dog we'd adopt would be as perfect as Ara, we would consider it. But our main reason for not having a dog now is that they get so lonely when alone, and we are gone 9-10 hours a day during the week. I feel it is not right to inflict that kind of pain, so we will wait until we retire. Then there is the whole first year of training, and we wonder if we really want to go through that again? Maybe my dog love will be fulfilled with Ara's visits. Do you want to hear the funniest thing? On one of her first visits to the farm Andrea said something to her about "Grandma" -- meaning me. Can you believe me when I say that gave me pause and a little pang of "Wha?" ME! It was the first time being called Grandma, though of course not the first time imagining it. I think I needed a little bit longer gestation. :)

Thank you, I'm glad you like the poem.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Lorenzo, for your very close reading and reflection on my poem, and on the path of inspiration and revelation that occurs in my writing process. Having you for an audience brings me great pleasure, and encouragement to carry on.

Ruth said...

George, I am very pleased that you have found so much to resonate in this poem. While some poets maintain a similar "architecture" (I love that word you used) for most of their poems, and they become recognizable, mine seem to shape-shift. This one's shape came gradually, from within itself. I was also delighted that you gathered the first words into a meditation. I had not seen that consciously! I love this forum where I can hear and feel the responses of readers and listeners. Your response is such a gift to me. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Dear Dan, I'm really tickled that you love the poem, and that you have followed Lorenzo's lead to record your own! It was hearing his Rainstick poem, and recognizing the added depth of hearing his voice, and hearing the words spoken, that prompted me to start recording my own. I felt the same response to your Arachnid poem, hearing it in your voice deepened the fun and sweet poem into an even more resonant piece.

Ruth said...

Dear Dutchbaby, oh thank you for such kind things said. In fact, I can't thank you enough it seems. I so appreciate your close response.

We, too, are excited about Peter's girlfriend and her beautiful dog. Both are "perfect" -- as much as anyone or anything can be perfect in this world. Imperfectly perfect, perhaps? Or perfectly imperfect. Whatever, they both bring much, much joy to our home life.

Ruth said...

Daniel, you are your dog have had more snow to play in this winter, I think.

Merci for posting the lycées for me to observe. I felt an instant connection with the first, light one, though it is not it exactly, as I have told you at your blog. I have never had such a strong sense of déjà vu and previous connection with anything in space and time as I felt on that street, in front of that building in Paris.

Ruth said...

Char, thank you very much.

Ruth said...

Dana, that's exactly what she said! How did you know?

Ruth said...

Oliag, thank you for your kind comment.

Arti said...

...but your cold brings poetry. I'm striving to glean some beauty out of our currently -22C weather. Thank God it's sunny, and that's a blessing. Beyond your beautiful words is the precious silence... your quiet voice is poetry itself. ;)

Ron Bennett said...

Beautiful and enchanting - the jolting quality of dog energy - in sync again - love it

Cait O'Connor said...

I liked the Queen Anne imagery too. And the doggy pics are also beautiful.

I just found your Wendell Berry poem too which I am going to copy.

Terresa said...

Beautiful attention to detail, Ruth, as in "the upstanding collars of Queen Anne’s court/each with her crown of snow" and the corresponding pictures, paint a quiet majesty.

Jeanie said...

Your new walking buddy has a grand smile on his face, and so do I, reveling in your expressive words, hearing and "seeing" it all. Oh, the energy that comes through in this piece. It's quiet, but oh, so grand!

Deborah said...

Perfecly, perfectly lovely, Ruth.

Margaret Bednar said...

Here in NC I have taken many a walk around our neighborhood and parks. We have now had our 2nd snow this year and I realize how the fresh snow changes everything we have been looking at for months. Everything has been transformed - a gift to be quickly embraced and enjoyed as it will soon be gone. By the looks of Ara, she must have been running circles around you, eager to live and explore. "Mantle of silence" certainly resonates with me today... I wonder WHY? (No school Monday, Tuesday and who knows how much longer...)

Soul Dipper said...

What a walk we had, Ruth - many thanks. The temp was not cold enough to have squeaks in the snow, but I felt the snow crystals being shaken to the ground. Lucky Ara to have you!

Ruth said...

Perfect comment, Neighbor! :)

Deslilas said...

You're right in this Latin quarter can be seen many outdoor recreation sores. I post their logo, a pic of one of them and a postcard of the Sorbonne on the same blog.
We had more snow in Southern Sweden,on the motorways in Germany and Belgium than in our Ski resort La Plagne !
we need new snow falls.

Ruth said...

Pamela, thank you, thank you! And did I hear a Woof, Woof! ? :)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bo! If I knew we would get a dog just like Ara, I'd be ready now. But the things is, we have Ara . . . and then she goes home with you . . . This is enough for now :)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Barb. Our permanent resident Zen master is Bishop the barn cat. But she was nowhere to be found during my walk with Zen Ara. :)

Ruth said...

DS, I'll see what I can do. :)

Thank you, my friend.

Ruth said...

Loring, thank you for your kind words!

Ruth said...

Dusti, your dream mingled with this poem along with your kind words are a dreamy gift. Thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jane.

Ruth said...

Oh Arti, so cold! Thank you for such kindness. Stay warm with your books and art, and the scenes through the windows.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Ron. Dogs, bears, the ways we are split, and the ways animals bring us back, whole. It's great stuff.

Ruth said...

Thank you very much, Cait.

Good that you found Berry's "The Peace of Wild Things" which gives me no end of inspiration and comfort.

Ruth said...

Thank you kindly, Terresa.

How fun your community poem is! I look forward to the final poem.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, thank you for your "quiet" and "grand" words, so very much. Stay warm, and safe!

Ruth said...

Thank you, thank you, Deborah.

Ruth said...

Margaret, I'm impressed by your poem after your walk, for Magpie Tales. You have found that quiet centering that's needed for listening, and then expressing, what is felt in that great wonder of freshly fallen snow. No doubt you needed that mantle of silence! Yes, Ara must have taken 100 steps for every one of mine. No wonder she didn't want to finish my third circuit and waited for me by the door. :)

Ruth said...

Soul Dipper, you would have needed many layers, as I did, on this walk. I am getting acquainted with Ara, as I am getting acquainted with her "mommy" -- both are such a gift to me. How did I get to be so fortunate?

Ruth said...

Daniel, thank you for the postcard of the Sorbonne, which looks VERY familiar from that dream of mine.

Maybe you can ski on the snowplow "mountains"!

Pauline said...

I'm equally awestruck by your ability to take mere words and turn them into such beauty.

Deedee said...

Wonderful photos. You really capture the essence of the day here.

The Solitary Walker said...

Just beautiful, Ruth. I am stunned then energized by your poems. You have a great gift and talent.

Ruth said...

Pauline, wow, thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Deedee, thank you, and welcome!

Ruth said...

Robert, thank you so much for those enthusiastic words, my friend!