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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poem: Digging for Now

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Digging for Now


In the womb of a candle glass, the flame bobs like a bird’s head,
wary of what comes on a breeze that is able to snuff it out.

Birdsong clings and cloys while I dig for the silent center
with ungloved hands, opening my ribs on their hinges,

tugging at roots for what is weed, what is flower, what
is food. My pen remembers what I cannot: The moment,

the now, your olamic eyes. The water in them, the sea in waves.
Your knees folded, and dark invisible walls, one single flame with

infinite poses. Who am I? Where can I retrieve your eyes under their
turban brows when you said against each second’s flash:

Yes, Yes, unceasingly Yes



Listen to a podcast of this poem here.
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50 comments:

rosaria said...

This is a KEEPER!
I love that last affirmation, those images of precariousness, the tremolous moment about to be snuffed.

missing moments said...

This is beautiful Ruth.

Brendan said...

Some baseball hitters go on a red streak at some part of the season, hitting just about everything into the deep lanes or out of the park. That would be you, of late ... You commented over at Terresa's blog that birdsong was oddly noisome and a nuisance to you right now, for reasons that you didn't understand. Here you get under the birdsong, the bird, as if poetry had darker deeper roots than such perches. Such delicate explication ("... I dig for the silent center / with ungloved hands, opening my ribs on their hinges"). And what is the self-recognition that comes in hearing the voice of an Other? Perhaps because under our many separate tributaries, there is just one ocean, one Song. For me, the only thing in the poem that somewhat misses is the title -- too throwaway. Something else in the lines, perhaps: Birds Piss Me Off"? -- naw ... "Remembering The Now"? You'll find it Great job, and loved those waves in the eyes ... Brendan.

Ruth said...

Rosaria, oh thank you.

Ruth said...

Reena, I'm glad you read and liked. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Brendan, yes, I was amazed that Terresa also found birdsong a bit bothersome, and Steven too, I think.

I've tried a new title. Tell me what you think.

Our song percolates and bobs and takes us eternally down, and up. Thank you.

hedgewitch said...

So glad I've come over and started reading your work. This is lovely in all its parts, and I won't pick it to pieces analytically, just say it left me with that desire to live with it that the best poetry always has. Also, appreciate the introduction to a new word. (olamic)

Brendan said...

My olamic bird says "Digging for Now" pleases her greatly. Worms beware!. Glad to see that Hedgewitch has found her way here. She's as a great reader as she is a writer. (So ... would an old bracing truth be called "olamic vinegar?") - Brendan

Maureen said...

Ruth, this is a beautiful poem, the imagery ("the flame bobs like a bird's head", "opening my ribs on their hinges") often extraordinary, the cadence lullingly lovely. Just marvelous!

Thank you for your wonderful comments on "A Higher Moral Ground". I, too, wish for the kind of discussion you mentioned.

Barb said...

Your poem of conception and life before life makes me answer, "Yes, Yes, unceasingly Yes," too. To dig for memories buried deep takes some hard work!

Barb said...

PS I can almost smell those lilacs! I love the muted background trees, too - the photo is its own poem.

Louise Gallagher said...

Your poems always leave me breathless, expectant, lulled into wonder.

this one definitely does it -- and yes, thank you for the new word and the poetry of your photo.

Andreas said...

"Your knees folded, and dark invisible walls, one single flame with // infinite poses." Words that resonate through my mind over and over.

Ruth said...

Hedgewitch, the feeling is completely mutual, as I am blown away by your poetics at Verse Escape. I've enjoyed your commentary at Brendan's Blue Oran a lot too. I have to say, I am quite tickled to introduce a new word to you.

Ruth said...

Brendan, it's funny about that previous title "This Moment is Eternal" — definitely a throwaway. There's a story behind it, but that's another matter.

I'm afraid I can't find a reference for vinegar and truth in my repertoire . . . tell me!

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Maureen, your response to my poem is great encouragement!

The ethical questions raised in your post about Adams are extremely interesting.

Ruth said...

Barb, it is hard work, and long. Perseverance is well paid, I think. When I look back now I am amazed at what has come about. I am happy you like my photo. I saw the poplars in mist and was drawn out to that scene. I have not been taking as many photos lately as I used to.

Ruth said...

Louise, thank you. Life is such mystery. And at times, it's just pulling weeds. But even there, then, it's mystery when you don't know what all those plants are you're pulling up. I want to name them.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Andreas. Somehow I found mutual resonance with your poem "Places" which I read shortly after posting this. I found your words to be expressing what I was feeling this morning as well.

erin said...

you did something and i have no idea how you did it. i thought i was standing there and suddenly i was here, or there, a new here. you did that recently with the poem about your father. you cracked me with that one. this one, i emerged into candlelight and incense thick rooms through the floor. just how is that done?


the now, your olamic eyes - right there, i am emerging through floors.

you inspire me.

xo
erin

Margaret said...

There is SO much here. I think I read it this morning, one of the first ones, in fact, before any comments were made. The fist two lines grabbed me then. I couldn't comment as I had my daughter to take to school. Now I'm back and have read it three times. The third and fourth lines wowed me. The IMAGERY of that is amazing. And then each line after that just amazes me. So rich, this is. How long have you been writing poetry? I would LOVE to have a printed "book" of your poems. REALLY. Thank you for sharing it here on your blog.

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Ever the longing. Thanks be for unceasingly yes...

The Solitary Walker said...

"There is nothing less apt to touch a work of art than critical words: all we end up with there is more or less felicitous misunderstandings." Rilke "Letters to a Young Poet"

Suffice to say, I found this very fine indeed. You have been digging deep for this poem, Ruth. And I feel the absorption in Rumi and Rilke. You are on a roll.

Montag said...

It is good that you are studying your Hebrew again. Olam... a very nice Hebrew word.

Mazel on ya!

Ruth said...

Erin, I am glad you are right here. It's what you said in your comment at white space. When we get our feelings out onto the page, maybe it's a small miracle, and another person can also feel it. You already know you inspire me. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Margaret, your kind words really knock me out. Thank you.

I began writing poems in the early mid-1990s, in college classes with Diane Wakoski. I also spent time writing and workshopping with her and other writers for about five years in a poetry writing group. But I feel my work was dead until the past year or so, due to a couple of factors. I met some poets here in the blogosphere who ignited my passion for poetry like never before. I also posted daily poems at the Rumi blog, and now the Rilke blog. I am convinced that the work of daily reading good poems about the work I love (going inside), and the discourse at the Rilke blog, have been the very best "education" for writing. Also, the poets I admire so much here online have also taught me, as well as inspired me.

Maybe one of these days I'll get a self published book out. It means a lot to me that you would like to hold such a book in your hands. Thank you, Margaret.

Ruth said...

Amy, thank you for understanding.

Ruth said...

Robert, you are perceptive. The work we've been doing at Rumi and Rilke, the daily practice of reading and meditating on their words, thoughts and feelings, has had a profound impact on me, and keeps on doing so. You feeling even a sliver of that here means so much to me, though there is much, much work to be done, both in my heart and in the writing. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Montag, I agree, it is a beautiful, beautiful word. The sound of it, the appearance of it, and its multiples of meaning. Thanks for your mazel!

Ginnie said...

The image takes my breath away, Ruth. That's Air. And now you want to take me into Earth?

Jeanie said...

The pen remembers what I do not. My dear, how DO you do it? And your lilacs... well, you know.

Oliag said...

That lilac in the mist photo is a poem in itself!

I love reading your poetry..it makes me think which I don't really often do during the day. This time I had to look up olamic...a lovely word to say...did you know it is not an official Scrabble word:) well according to Wordnik anyways:)

blueoran said...

"Olamic vinegar" rather than "balsamic vinegar" - lame pun, I know, but I couldn't resist. I do like old truths in my mental vinaigrette. - Brendan

Miss Jane said...

I think I like the "Digging for Now" title, it's quite descriptive of gardening. What are you up to in your garden? Well, just digging, for now.
I would chuck out the "like" in the first line. "the flame bobs, a bird's head", just a style preference.
I get a most definite Rumi vibe from this. (Perhaps the turban, the rib and heart opening?) Very strong and sensual and thoughtful. One single flame with infinite poses. Lovely.

Dutchbaby said...

I learned a new word too. I think Rembrandt paints olamic eyes. Your poems are a challenge for me, but I'm glad I persevered. Great positive ending.

Matt D said...

The audio really enhanced the poem for me. Excellent.

I loved this line:
"My pen remembers what I cannot:"

That feels so true.

Terresa said...

"opening my ribs on their hinges" -- I can feel this poem with my fingers. You used one of my favorite words of all: "Yes."

Ruth said...

Boots, I didn't realize, there are air, fire, water and earth here. I didn't intend that. But I'm all right with it. ;-)

I know you'll get your air back right quick, my Gemini sister, and I'll share my fire with you anytime.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jeanie. It touches me that you find something here.

Ruth said...

Oliag :-)

I have noticed that olamic is not in some dictionaries, but I didn't know it wasn't specifically in the Scrabble one.

Ruth said...

Brendan, I thought it might have something to do with balsamic.

Yes, I'd say of all the people I know, you take the old truths the most seriously, and "mental vinaigrette" is spot on for what seems to roil in that head of yours.

Ruth said...

Miss Jane, yeah, there are many ways to read the title, which is a good thing, I suppose. I think your suggestion for losing "like" is a good one, something I could probably apply to many poems of mine.

I'm glad you got the Rumi vibe. This poem began as a memory of an intense meditation in which "Rumi spoke to me," saying "This moment is eternal."

I recently read an excerpt from Margaret Visser's book The Geometry of Love in which she says, "Everyone has had some such experience. There are moments in life when — to use the language of a building — the door swings open. The door shuts again, sooner rather than later. But we have seen, even if only through a crack, the light behind it."

I won't try to explain it away, and thus destroy it.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, thanks for sticking with this.

Ohh, Rembrandt's eyes. Yes.

Ruth said...

Matt, thank you for reading and listening. Poems come alive for me when I hear them spoken too.

When I think about that line about the pen, it feels true, and yet I keep wondering, how can that be? Yet . . . it is why I write!

Ruth said...

Terresa, "Yes" is my favorite word. Second favorite: freedom.

Thanks, my friend.

Susan said...

Well, I think I know what it's about, and if I'm right, then you've hidden the subject well. :)

I'm pretty sure I could read this a thousand times and still not be sure. You do your work well, my friend.

Stratoz said...

love the connection between flame and bird that is made by the dangers of wind.

Ruth said...

Susie, this is about many things, but it began with a memory of a meditation in which Rumi "appeared" to me. I swear. Cross my heart. And he said, "This moment is eternal."

My friend rauf would call it frontal lobe epilepsy. :-)

Ruth said...

Stratoz, I was quite taken with picturing the bird's head as a flame, or the flame as a bird's head. Thank you.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

The eternal in the now, just like the infinite poses of a single flame. The imagery here (your ribs opening on their hinges, the turban brows) is as enthralling as the candle you describe. If I have not commented before it is because I am constantly bewildered-delighted by how this poem seems to change shape, color and meaning each time I look at it. The ever changing yet constant flame is such an apt metaphor in that sense. Did the same thing happen when you read this and reread and revised and reread it? Did new nuances and meanings flicker and fade, flash and dance in the breeze? For some reason I fancy the key is in the line "my pen remembers what I cannot". The poetry seems to stream purely from your pen, unedited by reason. You say Rumi struck the match that lit this candle, but the wax, wick and breeze are all Ruth.