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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poem: The Moon's Question

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The Moon's Question


The half-cut moon gleams across the dock
like a riddle of God, and I, a sphinx, guard

the entrance. On the lake’s shore, bound
in soil, a stone shines, a pearl in the dark,

like the tensile eye of Isaac from the altar,
bulging, uncloven, watching for an angel

to illumine the question of surrender, at the
moment of fullness when two realities exist —

one rising, shining, alive, and one falling back,
hidden, the seemingly silent side of the moon.





Illustration of the moonhair woman by Arthur Rackham

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47 comments:

Friko said...

I'd like you to know that I've been here but I have nothing to say except that these words inspire me to contemplation and meditation.

Stratoz said...

... two realities exist...

got me thinking about the rise of our craft business at home while I watch my horticulture program shrink at work.

Louise Gallagher said...

Yes -- the two worlds. Always rising and falling. Ebbing and flowing.

This is beautiful and I agree with Friko -- your words offer up meditative inspiration.

Nelson said...

The moon shines, yes, all the while with its "silent side," sometimes the only side we see.

Can the answer to the riddle, "the moon's question," mean anything other than surrendering to life is also surrendering to death, its silent side?

In the end, is not Isaac's question whether all shall be well, whether one can affirm life when the silent side of the moon shows its face?

Powerful images, Ruth. Thank you for reminding us.

George said...

Magnificent, Ruth! Oh those riddles of God, riddles of life — something always rising, something always falling, and much that always remains hidden on the silent side of the moon. Wonderful imagery in this poem, all of which makes be want to return and dig deeper into the mystery of your words.

ellen abbott said...

Like Friko, I want you to know I was here.

I love Arthur Rackham's work. I used to have a book of fairy tales illustrated by him. I wonder what happened to it.

hedgewitch said...

Beautiful images, Ruth. The sphynx, stone buried in soil, setting up the larger question of sacrifice and surrender searching for meaning in the final passage.

Maureen said...

A stand-out, Ruth.

Leena said...

Hello again! Between packing and baking ( for Melli of course ) I wanted to tell you, that I just finished Leo Tolstoy`s novel from the sites of Gutenberg.org :) Do you know these sites of old books, what you can read from web? www.gutenberg.org
Now back to pack :)

Jen said...

Speechless after reading this. Just beautiful! ~ Jen

Miss Jane said...

The bulging eye of Isaac, ready to sacrifice his son--Wild to see that in the moon along with yourself on the dock as a sphinx holding the question and the answer of surrender, the rising and falling coexisting. Wow.

Vagabonde said...

A very beautiful poem as you can write them. The painting goes so well with your writing.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

So lovely...and the image is stunning!

~Mimi
www.collagepirate.blogspot.com

erin said...

we are always then in the moment of fullness when two realities exist. always within the undulation, always between, always, until - what then? more, more half moons.

there really is no question. nor is there an answer. there is but one time, the bind of the wax and the wane spread out across our horizon. that we have the ability to slow it down, to live within it, to watch it move across our sky, here is our blessing.

perfect.

xo
erin

Ruth said...

Friko, thank you. That is more than enough.

Ruth said...

Thanks for reading, Stratoz. At this moment I see a lot of creative expression, rising, while traditional programs are cut or falter. The work of you and your wife is constantly inspired, and inspiring, making beauty out of the ashes.

Ruth said...

Louise, thanks so much. At last, I begin to see the whole on a more daily basis. At last.

Brendan said...

There is such a carved exquisiteness to this image and its enquiry, divine and divining, singular yet netting so many worlds in so few words. How is it that "two realties exist" in the half-revealed moon, "one rising, shining, alive, and one falling back, / hidden..." like coin half-deposited into heaven's piggy bank, or like a Sidhe just beneath the wave? The poem is like lacquer, a all gleaming surface with so so much inside. The only thing I wasn't nuts about was the title -- throwaway to me, a draft. You shaped so much beneath it, why not carve the shape atop the totem pole a bit more? - Brendan

Ruth said...

Nelson, thank you for your deep and resonant response to the images of this poem. Yes, to your questions.

Perhaps these questions are apt for Abraham as well, the father, the wizened one who had lived long and seen that all is well, really, somewhere, even when it doesn't seem so. And of course the impending doom of sacrifice was his, as well as his son's. Is the son here an innocent victim? Life is transformed when I stop seeing myself as victim, which is a role I have habitually turned to. It's toxic, and deeply embedded. It takes a lifetime to understand that yin-yang coexist.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, George. I think there comes a tipping point, when all the stretching that tribulation brings transforms an individual either into a cynic, or a person who learns not to resist what is, knowing its opposite will likely come, whether it is something rising, or something being "lost". Thanks for your enthusiasm, my friend.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I am glad to know you were here. Thanks for reading.

For as much as I love Rackham's illustrations, I really ought to get myself a book.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Hedgewitch. I appreciate your time with the poem.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Maureen.

Ruth said...

Leena, thank you for telling me about Gutenberg.org! Yes, I knew about it. I'm probably going to get a Kindle for my birthday, so that will come in handy. Maybe I'll finish War and Peace on it. :-)

Ruth said...

Thanks so much for that, Jen.

Ruth said...

Hi, Miss Jane! Yeah, there were some leaps here. Tricky to try to convey what is in the poet's eye, the connections that make some sort of sense, if only you can convince the reader. Thanks for reading.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Vagabonde, I'm glad you like the poem and feel that the painting goes well here. I have questioned the pairing, but stuck with it nonetheless.

Ruth said...

Thanks and welcome, Mimi. It's lovely to meet a fellow poet.

Ruth said...

erin, slowly the work of moonlight changes my skin, my sight, and I begin to see the whole, and not hear the questions. Actually, I have never been much of a question asker, now that I think of it, which is strange as I seem to always ask questions in poems. Hmm. Something to ponder.

But what I hear you saying is, while we want to ponder and question, there is just the reality there, waiting, being. I can become absorbed in its essence and feel its completeness. Thanks, my friend.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Brendan, for reading and seeing what you see here. Day after day, with the practice of looking, the figures start to make sense.

Thanks also for your attention to the title. I could have put 'WT' by it, because it truly is a working title, one that flipped and flopped like an unruly fish. I'll keep an ear out for a better one from the silent side. Let me know if anything appears to you.

Ruth said...

Oh, and Brendan, I meant to say what is probably obvious to you, that your poem "Chapel (Nursery of the Ages)" about Oran's volunteering to be sacrificed got me thinking about Isaac. Thanks for that thought-inspiration.

steven said...

poised. entirely poised. calm. waiting for the opening - a binary moment softly sliced by a stone's light.
i held my breath.
steven

Nelson said...

Re: WT

Something like "Moonglow's Shadow" appears to me, or, perhaps, something like "Dark Light."

Ruth, your responders' comments enrich us. Thank you for this forum.

Ruth said...

Steven, thank you for distilling a response in your quietly observant way.

Ruth said...

Nelson, it is a privilege here in these spaces. I agree.

I like what you're getting at, and to, in those title suggestions. . .

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous writing.

amy @ Souldipper said...

Aesops, Grimms - my constant companions as a child. The artwork gave me license to wander through openings into imagination. I don't recall seeing "moonhair woman", but, while reading your poem, I was able to delight in a companion imagination whose kindling was set ablaze.

Kathleen said...

Enjoyed poem, image, and all these engaged comments!

Susan said...

A perfect pairing of poem and painting....beautiful.

Montag said...

Wonderful. It is particularly appropriate that you mention the Sphinx, and that immediately puts us on our guard when in the presence of the beautiful moon-haired one.

She stands not far from shorelines, indicating an amphibious nature (just as the Egyptian Sphinx, or that of Boeotia in Greece).
Her footprints are the faerie rings seen within an enclave of young trees, where the grasses are gracile and tender, not rigid in structure like bulrushes and phragmites.

Ruth said...

Welcome and thanks, Mama Zen!

Ruth said...

Amy, I wonder what the real title of this painting is. Maybe it doesn't matter, but I am with you and the Rackham illustrations, and how they lead me into fairy tales and imagination. Thanks for reading and such a nice comment.

Ruth said...

Hello and welcome, Kathleen. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and good visits from friends.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Montag. Good to see you. I am allured by the sphinx, and your descriptions of her habitat. I promise that by saying I am one does not mean I will clobber anyone who tries to get past. The moon-haired lady looks pretty serene, but maybe that is the danger. At any rate, I love your language here (and elsewhere), and your close attention to my poem.

I think you know, as I have learned while in Ireland, that faerie rings are not fluffy communities of lightness of being. They are dangerously full of mischief. I think I need to explore this side of my soul a bit more ...

Terresa said...

"like a riddle of God" -- Ruth, this is rich! (I'm writing another moon poem myself, still in the draft stage -- after viewing it on mountaintop by telescope the other week.)

ds said...

the moon "half-cut" (sickle? scythe?), bound...guard...altar...angel...the tensile eye...
And the seemingly silent side...

Which is just to lightly touch the surface, all compact.
Exquisite.

ds said...

"the moment of fulness when two realities exist"
Perhaps this is not the moon's question, but her answer?