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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poem: Nostalgia at the intersection of the teacup

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Nostalgia at the intersection of the teacup

I
My friend warned me he would die someday
soon and I thought
but I don’t even know you
yet.

II
On the same leaf
the fly with wings
shining silvery in the mouth
of sunlight
faced the butterfly with threadbare wings.
Together they equaled
atonement.

III
If I were clever enough
I would teach my tongue
to curl through hoops of fire
unscathed.
Only cleaner.

IV
We are victims
of life, uninformed in
moony fogs without
compassion
for what is possible.
Life needs amnesty.

V
The way heads of grasses
hang over the path
in the meadow is
more beautiful
than flowers.
In my humble opinion.
(I hang my head shamefully
to compare anything of beauty.)

VI
Sadly, I don’t like tea,
because the luster
of a teacup
makes me want to drink it
sitting in a room with happiness,
shadows, and a window.

VII
I am either the mother
of becoming or
the becoming of mother
or I may have it all wrong
and I’m really the skeleton
sphere
of a new world.
Don’t you love Plato, and Blake?

VIII
I do not think
the cosmos is a symphony
where the spirit sings
accompaniment.
I think you are a symphony
and the cosmos backs
you up.







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57 comments:

Maureen said...

Great title for a poem (collection of aphorisms) that bears reading several times. I like how each part stands on its own and how all the parts work together. My favorite stanzas are I, II, V, VI, and VIII. "Life needs amnesty." is a memorable line.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Maureen.

So sorry, but I rearranged the stanzas a bit, moving VIII up to IV. So I think now you like I, II, IV, VI, and VII.

Miss Jane said...

Sadly, I don't know how to drink tea, because I am so used to drinking quickly--shotgunning down coffee in the morning, taking long pulls of beer after mowing the lawn in the afternoon. Tea requires savoring, and I'm an ill-tempered Goldilocks; it's either too hot or too cold, hardly ever just right.
A field (or swath) of grasses in blossom at dawn or full sunlight or twilight is incredibly beautiful and most incredibly difficult to capture and portray.
VIII. The cosmos backs me up! That made me smile.
Thanks for these lovely musings.

missing moments said...

Oh, Ruth, such beauty in your words ... I love the phrase "life needs amnesty" ... and the photo adds such perfect mood!

hedgewitch said...

Each little nugget of this poem offers up its own reward to the reader. As a whole, they make a functioning body moving--perhaps merely swaying--in the lightest of dances. I especially liked II and VII, but all are wise and worth savoring with a cup of tea--perhaps more Earl Grey than Red Zinger.

Grandmother said...

Your wisest wisdom of many: "...you are a symphony and the cosmos backs you up." I am the symphony, too, as are you. And the cosmos has our backs. Yes.

Vagabonde said...

I had to read these several times. I like the last one very much.
Did you mean you don’t like tea? Hot tea that is, or iced tea like they drink in the South? I have liked hot tea since I went to school in England. One year I brought back home to the US a whole tea set in china, with lovely rose flowers painted on it, but I rarely use it. I have a collection of eclectic china tea cups and depending on the season and the tea I’ll chose the right one, and the small silver spoon to go with it. I’ll also give the right cup to my husband to share our teatime together. Innocent little luxuries like this, using dainty china and silver on any given day, make my afternoons more pleasant.

rosaria said...

Ruth, what light you shine!

Brendan said...

As a poem, this sweeps so many rooms at once, opens so many windows, it can't do anything else but sip its humble marvels stanza after stanza. I read, and am refreshed in ways I do not know. - Brendan

signed...bkm said...

So beautiful with VII being the piece that truly touched my heart...what a beauitiful world you see...blessings...bkm

Friko said...

I love this poetic ramble on the meaning of life and the purpose of it, as well as the beauty which gives it form.

Unless I have totally misunderstood.

ellen abbott said...

lovely set but I especially liked the last one.

Oliag said...

Each stanza is a little gem that I stop and mull over...but it is the last that really grabbed me! I do think you are a symphony too:)

lorely said...

"I am either the mother of becoming or the becoming of mother...is the line which grabbed me most...I'm still trying to figure out which one I am...or am I both? I believe it is the latter. Thank you for these words which challenge me to grow...and become...

Terresa said...

The title of this is delicious, as it every stanza following. I'm swooning here.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Miss Jane. I love the images of you downing beverages. I just have not ever been taken with the flavor of tea, although I drank it regularly when we lived in Istanbul. But çay in a small glass seemed like less of a commitment and always tasted delicious for some reason. And there are a few teas now that I find delicious when I slow down enough to savor them.

It's lovely to watch the grasses with you in this morning light.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Reena, so much for your kind words and enthusiasm.

Elisabeth said...

This is a lovely take on nostalgia, Ruth. Speaking of which I have been nostalgic for recent days when I had more time to blog.

Of late I've been absent, trying to finish my thesis, but I am trying to make a gradual- eventual comeback.

I've missed tour blog, Ruth.

annell said...

Oh so beautiful...

Lilith said...

That last stanza, beautiful and true.

Louise Gallagher said...

You do shine a brilliant light Ruth. The words and rythym and imagery of this poem is beautiful -- but most of all, I love its mood.

Surreal. Wispy. Soft. It twines about my ankles, moving up my body like a thread of aroma from a cup of Darjeeling tickling my senses, surprising me with its sensuous call to slip into love and joy and peace.

Lovely!

Pauline said...

LOVE # VIII... you certainly know how to write a symphony of words!

Nancy said...

"Life needs amnesty." How true that is, and what a wonderful reminder that we can give it amnesty. I love your work, and though I don't often comment, I visit daily for words such as those!

N.

Jeanie said...

I love all of these, Ruth, but the recent loss of a dear friend and former colleague -- all too soon -- makes the first stanza so very poignant.

Shaista said...

Are you listening to Joni Mitchell much?? I could hear her singing through the veins of your work.
"I would teach my feet
to fly...
Oh I
wish I had a river
I could skate away on..."


Somebody said to me yesterday, "It's not like a blog is a work of art" or something like that...
I wanted to say, "Oh yeah? Read Ruth Mowry!"
A work of art, you are, you are.

Susan said...

So much to absorb here...I'm not sure I understand it all, but I think that is because we aren't meant to understand in one or two readings, or maybe even a hundred readings. Life does need amnesty sometimes.

I wish there was a "like" button...I would "like" Shaista's comment.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I especially like III and IV, so much I wish I'd written them.

Thanks so much for your kind words on my OSP feature. I think you're amazing.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Hedgewitch. You either read me well, or we happen to like the same tea. When I drink it, I choose Earl Grey, except when I'm in a mood for something lightly flavored. I appreciate your kind words.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mary. When I reread that stanza, I confess I still think the cosmos is a symphony too, but I use poetic license to change my mind. But I won't change my mind about you being a symphony.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Vagabonde. That's right, I don't really prefer tea, though when I bother to prepare it and drink it, the whole event is special. I have seen some of your teacup collection at your blog, and they're just what I had in mind when I wrote that stanza with 'luster.' Your tea service is a beautiful, simple way to enjoy the routines of your life. I am much the same way with my hand thrown coffee mug. Sometimes it's what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Rosaria.

Ruth said...

Brendan, thanks so much for your wonderful response. Knowing this refreshed you is a bounty of pleasure to me.

Ruth said...

bkm, welcome. Thank you so much for reading and meeting this piece with your kind heart.

Ruth said...

Friko, that is exactly what this is about . . . for you. I'm glad you love it, so glad, and that you find meaning in it.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Ellen. Onward with the symphony of you and your world of art in glass.

Ruth said...

Oliag, thanks my friend, for listening to my music so appreciatively. :-)

Ruth said...

Lorely, I guess it's a neverending circle. Thank you so much for reading and being grabbed.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Terresa, I like it when you swoon. :-)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Elisabeth, and I have missed you too. I hope the writing has been smooth and that now we will hear more of you and read more of your terrifically told stories.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Annell, very much.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Lilith, that seems to be the stanza that speaks. Glad I kept it at the end. ;)

dermatologist utah said...

The works goes with experience of yours. Genius!

Stratoz said...

the start grabbed me so hard it was hard to focus on the rest of the poem. I got to know one friend so much better after he told me he had pancreatic cancer. So now I can not think of his death without remembering those amazing conversations

Old 333 said...

Excellent.

Ruth said...

Oh lovely, Louise, your words and heart are so very lovely. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Pauline, I rejoice! We are all a symphony together, and each of us alone too. What wonders!

Ruth said...

Dear Nancy, it is quite wonderful to know you are there, reading and listening, whether you comment or not. That means a lot to me.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry to hear it. We never have enough, do we, we can't know a person enough.

Ruth said...

Oh sweet Shaista, yes, of course. :-) I was listening to 'River' yesterday, both her version and James Taylor's. You honor me so much to hear her here. But what you said in your head about my blog, oh my. Oh my oh my. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Susie Q, I'm not sure I understand it either, or even believe it. As Ruiz says in my footer, don't believe yourself or anyone else. I just know that I do feel all of this some of the time.

Well, there are two "likes" on Shaista's comment then, at least.

Ruth said...

My goodness, Mark, that's the best compliment a person can say. And from you, I feel humbled and honored.

I was so tickled to read Claudia's excellent and well deserved feature of you and your poetry and art.

Ruth said...

Stratoz, oh why does it have to be that way? I'm so sorry. And yet.

I always feel we should have memorial services for one another long before we are gone. We must be sentimental for one another now, here and now.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Peter!

erin said...

ok, don't kill me. i think of an old woman breaking off from her thoughts, perhaps losing her way through linear thought, but in the end astounding us with her insightful living brilliance. there. now that wasn't so bad. (ha!)

(I hang my head shamefully
to compare anything of beauty.)
this could be its own poem. it could be a hammer i use over and over again against the field. gorgeous.

xo
erin

ds said...

You must never hang your head shamefully, Ruth (even in metaphor). I'm with Oliag: you are the symphony.
The rest is silence.

Amy@Souldipper said...

Oh good - another someone who loves grasses. Thank you for your last verse. I believe it.

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

Everything here is careful to detail, poetry, photographs... everything conveys sensitivity and good taste.
Congratulations Ruth!

oa.s