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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Poem: To be an inanimate object

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To be an inanimate object

Enough of mind, and heart.
Someone turn me off.

Pack the story into a deep, arid trunk.
Don’t write any more in fluid ink.

Siphon the dark running river to put out the sun.
Cut out the moon like the bottom of a tin can.

Fix the bolts, tighten each hinge, hang me on a nail.
Let the dust that floats down be the poem.






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78 comments:

erin said...

ruth, this strikes me as a beautiful surrendor to actually being the inanimate objects that we will one day be. the dust will still be our poem. yup, just read it again as such, us injected into the place of object and i am ok. i am just fine being a lamp on the wall.

you know, i spent time with this photo first loving these things, the chair, the wall, the lamps, the gourds. not such a bad way to exist.

xo
erin

Ruth said...

erin, let's be curvy gourds. Or oil lamps.

amuse me said...

. . . or doors that you can see under and around . . .

Susan said...

I had to smile at this beautiful poem, Ruthie. :) Are you overcome with creating? Time to give the brain a little rest and just be?

I think I love that picture better than any you've ever shown us.

Ruth said...

Meryl, ohh, to be mystery like that.

Ruth said...

Actually, Susie, it's more about incoming information than outpouring expression that is wearying. Heartache from the world and friends. If I didn't have the expression, I don't know what I'd do. But I know the poem denounces poems, in a way. But I need 'em. More than writing prose at the moment.

I am glad you like the picture, thank you. I really like that old wall in the barn too.

Bonnie said...

Oh yes - and what is more beautiful than dust when caught in a beam of light?

Love this, Ruth.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, nothing. And to see appear what is usually invisible!

Louise Gallagher said...

To have that stillness of being, to be the dust mote dancing in the light, to let the sorrow and grief around us lie still as a poem upon a page, such grace.

Beautiful poem Ruth. Your words and beautiful photo stilled my troubled heart this morning.

Thank you.

Elisabeth said...

I see the photo and wonder about the significance of 1939. I read the words then and think to myself it does not matter.

We cannot trap these inanimate objects. We can only capture something of the feeling, as with our lives.

Thanks Ruth. This is very beautiful.

Ruth said...

I'm grateful for that, Louise, and for you.

Ruth said...

Elisabeth, how did you read my mind? I, too, wonder what the 1939 sign we found in our barn signifies. But what does it matter?

I appreciate your comment.

Shari Sunday said...

Well, I loved the picture. I found the poem beautiful but a little disturbing. We will be silent all too soon. In the meantime perhaps a little quiet time and a good night's sleep - a respite from the world's woes.

Gwei Mui said...

Words and picture - hand in glove.
Fabulous

Maureen said...

A great set scene captured in your image. (What wonders my sister could make of those gourds. She creates artworks from gourds.) I'm impressed by the order of everything, the way the gourds and lanterns line up, the gardening tools on the chair, even the straw on the left. We sometimes crave order when all around us is chaos.

Your lovely poem contains it all.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Yes. I understand.

Arti said...

Looks like every part of your farm house there's beauty. This photo itself is poetry, condensed and speaks so much that words are not enough. Inanimate or not, it's the aesthetics that speak, visual and poetry alike. You're right, at some point, it's beyond mind and heart.

Gayle Carline said...

Beautiful, Ruth. I sometimes long for that quiet, the peace that must come from being packed away and stored, where nothing is expected of me. But, of course, I want to be taken out and put to use again!

ournextchapters.com said...

"Let the dust float down be the poem." Amazing line.

Grandmother said...

We will all be dust floating down one day. May we also be a poem.

Dan Gurney said...

What an image!

What a poem!

Why does 2011 feel so much like 1939? Wars breaking out. Change in the air. Oh my.

Barb said...

Sorry, Ruth - I cannot allow you to become an unfeeling artifact. Let the poems continue raining from your mind and heart. I love this poem and its accompanying photo.

The Bug said...

I know that Dr. M feels this exact same way sometimes - he can't really ever turn his brain off so he would love to be an inanimate object, just for a while, so he could get some rest.

Jeanie said...

First, this photo is so evocative. How expressive it is.

And your last line -- letting the dust that floats down... As visual as your photo.

Friko said...

yes please, me too, just for a while.

shutting out the thoughts, the worries, the fretting, the puzzles, the struggle, the busyness of head and brain and heart and simply become inanimate, an object on a nail, gathering dust, dissolving into oblivion, how restful and desirable that seems.

but, how will they cope without us?

perhaps we'd better stay alert, who else is there to run the show?

Linda said...

I suppose if the dust has been floating around the barn since 1939, it would have a few poems to share. If only the dust knew how to share a poem. I love the arrangement of inanimate objects in the barn. The colors and the objects are retro and so cool. A very existential poem. It's wonderful, Thank you for sharing this, Ruth.

who said...

I bet you can watch the movie "the entrance to Alan's apartment" from the balcony of places you might temporarily stay

who said...

forgot to say it was a great poem too Ruth.

Oh said...

I'm stuck on the picture. It's just plain fabulous. Finally, I got to the poem and you never ever disappoint. What a pair these two.
You know your photos are poetry.

Ruth said...

Shari, yes, a little hyperbole here. Closing the door and saying "no more."

But maybe the door will open again tomorrow. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that what I feel today will probably not be what I feel tomorrow. Thanks.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Gwei Mui, so much. I love Don's old barn, and all his stuff, much of it passed on from previous generations.

Ruth said...

Maureen, thank you.

We have good plans for the gourds, maybe something like your sister does. I haven't tried it before, but I'll sand them, then use a dremel to carve patterns, paint them, and make them into lamps. Well, I'll try one and see how it goes. I'm excited!

Ruth said...

Pamela, life is coming too fast.

Ruth said...

Arti, my husband creates beautiful scenes like this, out of his own sense of what he enjoys, and also for me to enjoy. We both love old things, and the barn is such a gorgeous cathedral for many of them. I'm glad you get pleasure from this image too. Thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Gayle, you are so right. The feeling passes, and I want to jump right back in. But we need rest!

Ruth said...

ournextchapters/HisBells, thank you.

Ruth said...

Grandmother, lovely way to see that, yes, we will all be dust.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Dan. You're right. We have been here before. When the world was coming to an end, through such horrors. But it didn't end. Change, yes, what changes! It's hard to take it all in.

I wish you peace, Dan.

Ruth said...

Barb, thanks so much. Slowing down is necessary, finding balance. I can't do it without writing, and poems are the way I slow down. Funny how we say we don't want words . . . with words.

Blessings, Barb.

Ruth said...

Dana, it's important to find retreat somehow. Sadly, some can't find it. I hope Dr. M. can. And you too.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, I love this old scene in Don's barn too. Being still is something we have to do in this crazy time.

Ruth said...

Friko, how about we become inanimate for a while for retuning and refining? And then we can keep the wheels turning again in our little lives.

Ruth said...

Linda, even longer: 1901. I wish I knew what the 1939 signifies. We love old things, and Don loves his old barn. Some of these objects were left, some he has picked up at odd sales. He has a great aesthetic, though he won't admit it, and he creates scenes for me to photograph all the time. Thank you for your kind visit.

Ruth said...

Dusti, the gourds will be lamps soon. Don bought a dremel for me to carve designs that let light through when placed inside. I picture exactly that: we don't have a balcony, but we have a porch, and I picture a few hanging there in the warmer months.

Thanks for the lovely comments, my friend.

Ruth said...

Oh, you make me so happy. Thank you.

Pauline said...

and let the dust that floats down be the poem...

and so it is. what a plea for rest this is, for not having to worry one more second about the world we've created and just be...

Ruth said...

Pauline, to be like the animals, without forethought of grief as Wendell Berry wrote. Have a wonderful day.

Char said...

love the lamps and the ode. sometimes i wonder if life would be easier if only....and then i figure i'll go with what i'm given. *smile*

Margaret said...

I spent many a summer in the horse barns when I was growing up. When the light hit the interior just right, the particles of dust in the air looked magical.

I can understand just wanting to be hung on the wall and turn the heart and mind off. I've had a few things on my mind lately worrying FOR the outcomes of somethings lately. Not for me, but for others.

The photo has to be one of the most quaint and comfortable barns I have ever seen! Visual poetry.

Looking for Siddhartha said...

to lose and forget everything and to be born-again! A deep poem full of secret expressions...!
Wonderful!

Have a nice and good day, dear Ruth!

Renée

Ginnie said...

Having looked at and photogrpahed this wall of your barn umteen times, Ruth, I could easily wish to be so inanimate. All these years since 1939, ghosts slipping through the back slats, light coming in and out, boards creaking...I'm sure the stories these inanimate objects tell far outlive and excel the stories my heart and mind can ever drum up.

I love the thought of it!

margie said...

love the image.

George said...

As you know, Ruth, I have never read a poem by you that did not resonate with me at some level. This poem, however, is my favorite, I think, because it captures in very precise and economical language exactly what I have been feeling in recent months — an intense need to be "turned off," to have the bolts fixed and the hinges tightened, to be, if only for a fleeting moment, the creation and not the creator.

Marcie said...

Not sure which I love more - your image..or accompanying poem. A perfect pairing!

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Just when I feel I could live content to be a light veil of settling dust highlighted in a sunbeam someone comes along with such a beautiful image and poem as these, opens the doors, lets in a draft that stirs everything up in a swirl of flitting specks of light and puts an end to that!

The photo is a poem on its own and your words are really quite arresting, an entire philosophy of being and observing packed into such simple, spare and comforting lines. A selfsung lullaby for a weary poetess.

Vagabonde said...

Beautiful poem Ruth. But I would not like to be an inanimate object where someone could paint me, or throw me in a garbage dump. I would like to be a tree – somewhere far in the wilderness, not where I would be cut off to make way for a subdivision - a living tree where birds would find shelter for their nests and I could see the world from way above while I breathed pure air.

blueoran said...

It's about time someone went beyond Blake's "Everything that Lives is Holy" to this "Every Thing Is Holy!" Thanks for showing this pew in the chapel of dust motes. - Brendan

Montag said...

a trunk with travel stickers:
luxor in the east,
morocco in the west,
where the sun sets -
inanimate, but...
no dust settles there!

Ruth said...

Char, good call. Like Virginia Woolf said, "Arrange whatever pieces come your way."

Ruth said...

Margaret, ohhh. I have brilliant dust memories from horse barns at the county fair. There's something about that August heat, the bit of darkness in the stalls, and the light that falls in and highlights the dust that rises from the hay.

I know you have many things on your mind, some for your family. I hope you can find points of rest.

Ruth said...

Renée, oh yes. To die, and come alive again. It's what a day and night are about, I think. To see a new day like a baby!

Ruth said...

Boots, I think of you every time I look upon this scene. How could we ever cover the barn with metal siding and lose those gaps? I can't do it.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Margie.

Ruth said...

Hello there, George. I'm not sure we're informed socially how to be done unto, to sit back, to stop and say it's all right to do so. But I am certain there are pauses in life when if we don't, it feels as if we might break. We must allow these pauses, I feel. I'm glad this poem spoke for you too, for that is a gift to me.

Ruth said...

Marcie, I am so glad you like this duet. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Oh, Lorenzo, your engaged response means so much to me. What is it about knowing that another feels the same, about our feeling acknowledged, that releases something whole out of something sort of broken?

You got it exactly right: this was the only song I could sing myself. I'm glad "she" sang to you too.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, your comment makes me smile all the way through. To be a still, living tree. I think you would like the two-part poem by Rilke in the A Year with Rilke blog called "Annunciation." Woman as tree.

Ruth said...

Brendan, oh you feel it too? The vibration in everything. It is all movement, even if it looks still. Being still is doing something.

Ruth said...

Montag, the palace of winds . . . you're always bringing me back to "The English Patient." Now that is not the dust I'm picturing in this stillness, buddy.

ds said...

Ohhhh...I have been in that barn, Ruth, smelled the hay, the metal, the wood, the rust (alas, not the quail-gourds beautiful as they are), peered through the slatted wall, creaked open the woodshop door. The photograph is a poem, a memory-song, for me.

No, you must not stop the flow of ink, nor crucify yourself with worry for the world. Be the old coat hanging on the nail, if necessary, just don't block the light from shining on your beautiful motes of dust.

The Solitary Walker said...

Great stuff. My only criticism is - and it's hardly a criticism - I wish it were a little longer! But, as George says, beautifully economical and precise. I love precise. Much better - and much harder - to do than verbose.

Ruth said...

ds, I thought I felt you there. Anyone lucky enough to have a barn like this in their memory banks knows it is a cathedral like none other.

Thank you for your vote of confidence. I am shyly following the great Rumi and Rilke and others who used words to decry words. It's true of ecstasy, that there are no words to describe it. It's also true of utter depletion and sorrow. Yet write on we must.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Robert. I'm glad you like my poem. When I read it, I find an odd cadence in it, which may be a fault. But I guess it is my intention to make it halting, to force us to slow at each line, and stop the flow, down to the flutter of dust.

Jane Lancaster said...

this is utterly beautiful..I want to sit on that chair and the poem is beautiful.. what a place you live

Terresa said...

"Let the dust that floats down be the poem."

Love this.

Loring Wirbel said...

A just-so, concise and strangely solemn poem! I really love it.

Dutchbaby said...

I admired this still life for a long, long while before scrolling down. The turquoise chair led my eye to the green lantern and then the verdigris 1939, the best year in film ever. All the other details, in hues of dusty brown, are the supporting cast that anchor this meditation of inanimate objects.

Your poem, perfection also. Yes, let the dust be the poem. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Ann said...

You took me back to 1939.

In fact, in the 60x, my grandpas used those hurricane lamps.