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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Poem: September morning

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September morning


He’s tall as a tower, my son — graceful
in the resilient way

of bamboo, lithely connected
at joints and knuckles.

With guitar he eases out
a tune’s vulnerabilities, bending

fingers and strings as if not
bending at all, as if he were himself

the curve of wind on
a leaf ribbon,

tapping dew-riffs out of air.
Wind is the maestro,

we the geniuses who play
our one sublime

sound — tapering,
sometimes stuttering, ruffled

into harmonics, being blown
with the rest into a song untouchable.






Our son took a bad fall last week and broke a bone in three places. It’s times like this, on this day of remembered tragedy, that we see how fragile and vulnerable we all are.

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59 comments:

Maureen said...

This works so well for a number of reasons, perhaps the most important being that it is written out of experience that opens a way into recalling and reflecting on that terrible September day. Thank you for not writing the obvious or the cliched.

California Girl said...

Yes, this resonates with me about my sons, one of whom plays guitar. Sweet imagery. God I love them.

erin said...

this is exactly what makes the music valuable/beautiful. if it were plentiful, if it were not in danger, it would be nothing.

so so beautiful, ruth, you, he, the music!

xo
erin

Grandmother said...

It's scary when we come face to face with our children's vulnerabilities. I love the image of his resilience like bamboo which I see each time I go to the rainforest. Last time there our friend played the guitar with his adult son while the bamboo cracked in the wind like the stuttering you mention. Your poem to your son reminded me of that scene. May he heal well.

hedgewitch said...

You put him before us, Ruth, and not only him but ourselves, and the tragedy of any life distorted or interrupted from its course toward expression, 'ruffled into harmonics...' such a perfect phrase, such a gentle movement, precise and yet having the beauty of the random. Lovely poem.

Vagabonde said...

What a lovely poem Ruth. I hope your son will heal quickly and also hope that it was not his hand or fingers that he broke, so he can still play his guitar – music is such a healing force.

shoreacres said...

I'm so sorry for your son - I hope his healing is quick and uneventful. Such irony, that my mother, who fell frequently in her later years, never broke a bone, while strong, towering Peter wasn't able to escape.

There's a lesson there, I suppose. Those we expect to suffer for whatever reason - like the natural fragility of age - sometimes don't, while the strong, seemingly impervious to threat, are felled in an instant.

A combination of humility and caution seems a good response.

Shari Sunday said...

"lithely connected
at joints and knuckles"

my favorite part

California Girl said...

Ruth, may I reprint this? I want to do a post comprised of a few 9/11 posts I'm liking today.

Oliag said...

I am so sorry to read about your son's injury Ruth:( It must be very difficult for you to be so far apart when his tune is out of harmony no matter how old he is...
The young heal quickly fortunately!

ds said...

I am sorry for Peter's injury; may his bone knit quickly and well so that he can return to his own unique song!

And yours, oh...have read it several times and still it eludes me. Yes, the inherent danger(can there be beauty without risk?), fragility, but also resilience and a kind of hope--the song untouchable.

"as if he were himself

the curve of wind on
a leaf ribbon"

Dutchbaby said...

Ouch! May his bones knit together and be good as new soon.

Remarkable how your feelings ooze out of your pores in poetry.

Ginnie said...

Still tears in my eyes, Sister, over all the tragedies of our lives, however great or small. The closer they are to home, the more painful, perhaps?

I love you...and him.

Stratoz said...

hoping your son heals up soon

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Wishing speedy and whole mending to your son. He certainly seems unbreakable in this wonderful poem, which begins with him as a tower and then draws out his gracefulness until the reader sees him as the curved trace of the wind itself. I love the way the poem then turns our attention to all of us, drawing us in to the space first etched in the air by Peter and his guitar, with your appreciation of everyone's "one sublime sound" and how we are all fated to to be blown together into a "song untouchable". That is a beautiful ending and leaves me pondering that shared song untouchable, a music I feel more than understand, hear more than see. I do not know 'exactly' what that song untouchable may be, but I get the powerful sense that it is where poetry dwells, they way the sea dwells in a shell held to our ear.

Ruth said...

Hi, Maureen, and many thanks. September 11 is too big for me to write about. In fact I hadn't planned to post something to commemorate the tragedy. But as you say, when a dear one faces any kind of trial, it looms large, and becomes the connecting point for other sorrows.

Ruth said...

California Girl, our sweet sons. Bless them.

Ruth said...

Thank you, erin. The danger that is always there . . . how to keep it present in one's consciousness, without over-worrying? There are no easy answers to this.

Ruth said...

Mary, oh joy, to read and hear your rainforest-bamboo-guitar story crackle-stuttering adds a wonderful layer to this. Thank you for your wishes. He has reconstructive surgery on his jaw today.

Ruth said...

Dear Hedgewitch, I thank you for how you reflect and appreciate what I write here (today and always). Mine is a sometimes more distant and universal way of expressing things, while yours is deliciously specific. It is good that we can do both, and join in the flow.

Ruth said...

Thank you very much, dear Vagabonde, for your thoughtful wishes. It is his jaw, he will have reconstructive surgery today, and it will be wired shut for some time. There seems to be no other injury in his body, very thankfully.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Linda. Let's hope his jaws will heal in perfect alignment after today's surgery. He said he always wondered what it feels like to break a bone. Sadly, he found out, though gladly and surprisingly his pain has been minimal. Amazing that your mother, who fell often, did not break her bones!

Humility and caution sound like a good approach to life on any day.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Shari. Don't you love the old art of Japan and other Asian artists who focus on those bamboo joints? I do.

Ruth said...

California Girl, thanks for that honor.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot for your heartfelt response, Oliag. You are so right, he's still my baby, and thought of anything broken in his body breaks my heart.

Ruth said...

Thank you, ds, for your wishes and thoughtful response to the poem. He has been talking normally all weekend, so we hope that the surgery will only enhance recovery smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Ruth said...

Double ouch, Dutchbaby, as it was his chin/jaw! I can barely think of it. But knowing he has had minimal pain, and that he is in good hands in a good hospital today, helps a lot.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Boots. I do think even the less tragic wounds that are close at hand loom in comparison to even the biggest tragedies. I love you, thank you.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Stratoz.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Lorenzo. I feel there is an invisible tether between this post and yours about Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Trade Center towers. What is the untouchable song, what is the traceless trail at the end of your verse, what do etchings in the sky look like? So often I listen to Joni Mitchell sing "Amelia," her song about Amelia Earhart . . . six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain . . . We just don't know who will make it to the other side safely, but as Amelia Earhart said, The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.

If fear stops us from being and doing what we love, it is no life.

And I quite like her last name Earhart. Maybe we can all listen with our ear-heart to one another's sublime sound untouchable.

Shattered said...

What beautiful words. You truly have a gift!

Best wishes to your son and for a speedy recovery.

Jennifer

Louise Gallagher said...

May your son's bones knit seamlessly together -- as he continues to play.

As a mother, we cannot let go of worry -- yet we must let go of worry to give our children room to move freely in the world.

Such a delicate balance -- and so beautifully written in your poem.

Thanks!

Mark Kerstetter said...

Ruth, your poem has such a beautiful healing touch. Your son is fortunate.

missing moments said...

Such a beautiful poem, Ruth. Love the image as well.

Arti said...

I can certainly empathize, Ruth... my son is tall and slim, and plays the guitar too. I wish your son a speedy recovery. Oh how it must be painful for both son and mother. And yet the bamboo is a symbol of resilience, definitely. It's graceful, elegant, and flexible. Able to bend, yet can bounce back naturally. But you've done more, throwing in the musical metaphor. Thanks for this simple yet layered poem, Ruth.

amy@ Souldipper said...

Fragility humbles me in all the right places. Doesn't mean I like it, however.

Lil Coyote said...

to read such beautiful wisps of grace and melody in your words and then find a fall at the end reminds me that even leaves crash after a graceful ride
rick

Andressa C. said...

touchable delight.

Friko said...

You have such a light touch with your poetry.
You even turn the image of a fully grown man into a delicate scene.

I loved your fashion and art post; I've only just begun to catch up with blogs.

JeannetteLS said...

Delicate, poignant. Lovely. I read it aloud twice and it lingers. Thank you. I hope your son's surgery went well.

Jeanie said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I hope the healing will be fast and complete and that he will be all right. Can he still perform? Your poem is filled with love. Yes, we are indeed both fragile and vulnerable.

Ruth said...

Jennifer, thank you for your kind words, for me, and for our son. He is feeling better after surgery.

Ruth said...

Louise, thank you for your good wishes for Peter.

I think this delicate balance is awfully hard. Sometimes I want him back here where I can take care of him. But at almost 29, he is in his own space.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mark. Yes, this could have been much worse.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Reena.

Ruth said...

Arti, thank you very much for your kind thoughts and attention to the poem and to Peter (and me). He is doing better, on his way to mending.

Ruth said...

Amy, it's awfully difficult to let it be.

Ruth said...

Rick, thanks for your beautiful image and thoughts.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Andressa. Words are strange and mysterious little powers, no?

Ruth said...

Friko, I understand, and thanks for your attention here. I am awfully behind on blog visits myself.

Glad you liked the fashion one, as there is more to come. And thank you for your kind response to my poetry.

Ruth said...

JeannetteLS, thanks so much for reading my poem closely, and for your wishes for Peter's surgery. It did go well, and he is now recovering fairly comfortably. We are grateful for many things.

Ruth said...

Dear Jeanie, I have thought of your Rick many times these last few days, after his terrible accident last year. :( Thankfully he pulled through beautifully. Thank you for your wishes for Peter. It will be at least three weeks before he can work or perform, but hopefully not longer. His jaw will be wired for about three months. He sings in the band in some songs, but his primary role is guitarist.

Brendan said...

Your empathies as a mother make poems about your children so powerful -- not necessarily more powerful than the others (because you are so magnificent in so much), but special. To the fans of Lord Huron, he's a hot guitarist, but the mother sees where that big music came from, or how it blew through him since he was young. Probably a vision, too, into the future ... I watched Pat Metheny and Charlie Hayden on an episode of Elvis Costello's TV series "Spectacle," and it was something to see the gift of music carry on and on and on through a person's life. Hope the surgery came off well, and I hope he didn't have high harmony duities that he had to park. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, thanks a whole big bunch.

I love the image of a life, the art or music that carries on, or that the artist carries, like a pack. There is something extraordinary to me that Peter has played his guitar every day since he was 12. That's nearly 17 years. Like a writer who rises at 3 or 4 in the morning daily to listen for his song, the music and telling get clearer and brighter (even if sometimes dark and stuttering). Pete's doing much better as of yesterday. Just don't touch his jaw. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Wishing your son a swift recovery and a minimum of pain.

Jeanie said...

Ruth, was it a car accident? A fall? Not the dreaded bike? Please let me know and also let me know if there is anything I can do. I don't know what -- one never does. But you know what you need and if I can help, please let me.

nathalie (Avignon) said...

Beautiful poem, Ruth.
Good luck to Peter for a speedy recovery.

Susan said...

Darling friend, this piece is truly one of your best. The images you convey with just a few succinct phrases make me gasp with knowing.

I hope Peter is doing well and getting back on his feet.

I have been catching up with your posts this morning, and I won't even attempt to comment on them all, but I loved the one about language and Dr. Pam, the pear one, of course (my mouth was watering), the fashion ones are, as always, brilliantly inspired, and inspiring. Thank you for allowing me to be absent for a while. I'm trying to get back to it.

I have my own mushroom experience that I'll tell you about someday.

BlancheDuBois said...

Lovely words.
Has your son seen them?
There's so much love in them, perhaps they would aid his healing--which by now I'm sure is well underway, since this was posted some time ago.
Sorry for his injury. I hope his healing has been swift and thorough.