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Monday, October 24, 2011

Poem: Stacking in October

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Thanks for relishing with me the beautiful time at the lake with Inge, what we think of as our autumn writing retreat. Besides our luxurious hours reading and conversing, I did not do any new writing there, but I did edit, shuffle and organize poems for the book I want to self publish. I was encouraged because I got farther than I expected, with even a tentative title and cover design. I have much to learn about publishing, ISBNs, and all sorts of things I would rather not be bothered about. A dear blog friend has been of great help and is giving me time on the phone today to answer questions. While I don't care all that much about "marketing" this book, seeing it as more of a small offering to those who have asked for something like this from me (so very kindly), I suppose it would be negligent of me to press ahead without ample forethought.

Anyway, this poem was written after returning home. It almost sounds as though I could use another retreat, but don't worry: winter is coming, with plenty of time for naps near the wood stove on weekends.


Stacking in October


For a few minutes’ interlude from Sunday rest
I stack firewood in the corncrib from the pile
at its door. Wrists ache. My body is heated
from within by menopausal hot flashes. I am not
exhilarated by the exercise, feeling my age. I must
sweep off the curled, dried leaves on the porch
before the wicker and potted wilting impatiens
are mere crispy mounds, like bracken covered in kudzu.
So, too, I must pluck hairs from my chin. How like
honey the sun flavors the quiet air—my one clear hope
and pleasure in these autumn minutes, until powder
rifles and shotguns ring peals from neighboring land.
Prizes are claimed, herds thinned. Winter is coming
with its losses, its sleep, and its recycled comforts.





Poetry should be heard.




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51 comments:

Maureen said...

Wonderful details in your poem, Ruth.

And how exciting to learn about a collection from you! I'll look forward to it.

Friko said...

Poems are for savouring, practical, realistic, though they may be. I am savouring this one, it tells me much about you.

Your sojourn with Inge has done you good (Inge will understand this phrase).

Being away from blogging is what I need too, my storybook is having a very hard time being born, there are too many blogs to read and comments to answer.
But how can one ignore friends.

missing moments said...

wonderful Ruth, just wonderful! So glad you are moving forward with your book!

Ginnie said...

I would love that task, dear sister, of stacking the wood in the corncrib...while you do the chores more suited for your poetry hands. I can picture all of what you have written here, which is the beauty of it. And your book...one day it will be in my hands.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ruth, this is a tremendous sonnet, and I admire and love it. I like the exact and honest details about being a woman at a particular age in a particular season. I like the exterior observations to do with autumnal firewood, bracken, curled leaves, wilting impatiens etc - all chiming with the rhythms of your own body. And I really love 'How like / honey the sun flavours the quiet air...' I hope you were pleased with this line, for it is a little piece of Keatsian magic. And I love also the last two anticlimactic and partially resigned/accepting 'thinning' lines.This is a very fine poem indeed, Ruth, and one of the best you have written.

Nancy said...

How lovely! Yes, this season of our lives (we are contemporaries in age, I believe, though I'm ahead of you on a few counts) is bittersweet. Some benefits and some pains!

I look forward to having a copy of your book when it is done. I can't imagine any book I to which I would look forward!

hedgewitch said...

I smiled ruefully and with total identification, Ruth--and the crisp pear-colored light is indeed a consolation. I get so upset with my old body for taking the pleasure away from the work I used to use to soothe myself, but at least we still keep the satisfaction of the job done. A lovely poem of the daily world refined. Looking forward to your collection.

erin said...

((( )))

how familiar! right down to the whiskers on the chin;)

i've just taken my break from splitting kindling with my broken axe to come and read you. how perfect. how absolutely perfect. winter comes and it will hold us both for a time and then release us, one way or another.

i envy you your wood crib. i've tarps. i will fight the ice and snow. but i have to admit, i kind of relish this, but only for now as my body betrays me, too.

love!
xo
erin

ds said...

Yippee! The book is becoming real. I love the honeyed light in your "season of mellow fruitfulness" (you have been fruitful, this season), and the firewood, bulwark against winter's cold...
Thank you.

Grandmother said...

I felt excited for you as I read this sonnet. Remembering menopause ten years ago that heralded (who knew) powerful changes in the transition to wise woman, grandmother and elder. You describe some of the physical changes but the spiritual and energetic changes give rise to this poem, this book, this star in it's ascendancy. I'm in awe.

Jeanie said...

Ruth, Wednesday afternoon from 1-4 at the Main Library building on campus they're doing a demo of their self-publication book machine. I have a copy of something they put out -- it's really nice binding, especially if you want to try something on for size, see how it looks on the pages and all before doing a huge run. Or, you can do a huge run if you want. Full color cover, only b/w within. Don't know how it handles photos. I'll be going to the demo. You might want to look into it before sinking tons into a company. They can also help with those initials you mentioned, too!

amy@ Souldipper said...

I admire your tenacity with the publishing feat. Glad you have help...it's still a monster in my mind.

Oh, for the love of a healthy stack of wood. Besides a big pot of home-made chunky soup, is there any better preparation for a comfy winter?

Barb said...

Yes, of course - I'm nodding as if you're speaking of ME!

steven said...

on the weekend i rode beside a river and watched a v of geese flying a metre and a half above the water's surface. they and their mirror flew south and my heart went with them for a moment until i caught it and remnded it and myself of the beauties that winter carries on her soft-downed back. steven

Louise Gallagher said...

You are so write-on! Hearing you adds a wonderful clarity to your beautiful poem.

And.... anticipation heightens for your collection. HOw exciting!

Oliag said...

I am right in line for the purchase of your book when it is published! So exciting!

Loved this poem...winter is coming and you are preparing...

Ruth said...

Thanks, Maureen, regarding the poem, and for your interest in the book. My blog friends will be among the first to know when it is available. It could be a while, we'll see.

Ruth said...

Thank you for savouring, Friko, that is very nice. I see that I need to catch up with you to learn more about the storybook. It seems that I have been neglecting my friends!

Ruth said...

Reena, thank you, your encouragement is welcome!

Ruth said...

Boots, I know that you would enjoy stacking the wood. I do, too. If only my carpal tunnel would quiet down. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Ruth said...

Robert, abundant thanks for your enthused response to my poem! I love your comment, especially that bit about Keatsian magic which really made my week. I appreciate your close reading very much. If we're gonna get old, we might as well be poetic about it, right? (Do not go gentle . . . someone said . . .)

Ruth said...

Nancy, thank you for such kind words in anticipation of the book!

This span of life really is mostly good, I think. I would not want my 18-year-old self back again, even knowing I would have that body.

Stratoz said...

and so now I wonder, if the exercise of caring for the garden no longer exhilarates, then a new exhilaration must be found.

enjoying that warm sun flavoring the air sounds good to me.

Margaret said...

You are precious! I laughed at the part "plucked hairs from my chin" and my young son wanted to know "what's funny?" and I said, well, it really isn't funny... :)

I can't WAIT for your self-published book! :)

Dutchbaby said...

I am beyond excited for your book in the making. Nice to see those feathers perched in your soul.

George said...

A wonderful poem, Ruth, one that resonates with me on many different levels. Having just "celebrated" — I think that's the operative word — my sixty-ninth birthday, I find myself deeply moved by the last line: "Winter is coming with its losses, its sleep, and its recycled comforts." I also appreciate — and deeply respect — any woman who can speak of plucking hairs from her chin. Well done!

Ruth said...

Hedge, your comment provides a good lesson in making the most of what is. Yes, there is satisfaction that we have wood in the corncrib, and it keeps our propane consumption to almost zero in these first months of cold weather. Thank you for reading and encouragement.

Ruth said...

erin, perhaps I should add a feather or two to my featherhead portrait on the sidebar, eh? :-)

I'm impressed that you split the kindling! I am afraid of the axe and leave that to Don. Yes, I love our little corncrib, where we store wood on one side and yard tools on the other.

Truly I love winter, though the cold daunts more than it used to. I can't tell you how I look forward to this season! As for the metaphorical season, I look forward to these next years heading that way too, with some kind of tender embrace and understanding.

Kanelstrand said...

Beautiful words that caress my soul. You tend to add magic even to the act of plucking hairs out of your chin!! Your poems should be published! I know the emotion of seeing and touching your thoughts on white paper... There's nothing that feels better for me!

Marcie said...

What a beautiful metaphor between the season of autumn..and our age. You have such a magical gift with words!

Ruth said...

ds, I so welcome and love your enthusiasm for my work and this project. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Mary, your comment delights me. Just the way you wrote it, and the movement behind it, ring down into my very being about this time. I never knew that awareness is what makes elderhood-grandmotherhood so beautiful? Thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, since you posted your comment, as you know from my emails, I have been super excited about the Espresso Book Machine at our university, one of a few in the world! I may not get to the demo today, but at the very least, I will probably get a "proof" copy of my book printed on it . . . whenever I have five minutes to spare. :D Thank you!

Ruth said...

Dear Amy, believe me, I have been daunted at various steps in the process, but thanks to Dutchbaby, and others, I am gradually easing into it all.

Yes, I am ready to start making veggie stock on the wood stove on Saturdays, one of my great pleasures. Thank you for your kind visit!

Ruth said...

Barb :-) It helps to know I am not alone.

Ruth said...

steven, thank you for catching your heart and bringing it back, for knowing you need it to love winter (that, and a mind of winter).

Ruth said...

Louise, thank you so much for your reading, listening and for encouraging me to keep moving ahead toward a book!

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Oliag, you'll be among the first to know about the book! And thanks for reading.

Ruth said...

Stratoz, there is plenty out here to exhilarate me, and I think you too. I also believe and hope that my days of exhilaration from exercise are not quite over! The light, the sun, rain, snow, sky, shapes of trees, birds flitting around, all this while I walk with energy in my step, and I am happy.

Ruth said...

Margaret, but I think it is quite funny! And you know, I have a wonderful image of my mother sitting by the light with her mirror and tweezers. I am in good company.

Thank you for your enthusiasm about the book!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, you are pulling me through this into a far better vision than I had allowed myself. I can't possibly thank you enough.

Ruth said...

Thank you, George. I'm glad you like the poem. I never dreamed as a young person that I would be who I am now: more aware, enjoying life as never before, and surrounded by a cloud of friends who challenge me to even further discovery like a child. As for that line about plucking . . . I thought of removing it a dozen times, so thank you, my friend, for your affirmation.

Ruth said...

Sonya, I thank you for finding magic in my writing. It tells me that you feel something of what I feel when I write: magic is exactly what I want to express.

Yes, I dream of holding a book of print with my words and imagine the satisfaction.

Ruth said...

Dear Marcie, all the seasons have their charms. And isn't it funny how young 55 sounds now? In fact, I don't think of someone as old even at 80 now!

Brendan said...

The labors of preparing for winter - both in the land and the body (and they are identical) -- are difficult and yet, perhaps because they are difficult and require a greater degree of surrender than we ever wanted to remit, have all that "honey" -- poured, perhaps, in greater measure as we let go. Women, in my lesser opinion, have such divinely appointed bodies (don't get me started on my wife)-- a man's body is no match for beauty and curvature and procreative clout -- yet they pay the higher price for such plumbing (don't get me started on my wife.) . And receive the greater measure of blessing for that transformation. Winter comes, and wonderful indeed is the hearth and heart in that season. - Brendan

Peter said...

You have perfectly expressed the "seasonal" feelings, perhaps felt stronger during autumn than during the other periods of the year. ... and as the years go by, the more there is a reason to remember "carpe diem"!

Shaista said...

How like honey the sun...
I await your book with eager anticipation beloved one. It will be a thrill.

I have been so pathetic with my own ISBN etceteras. Uploaded to Lulu, and done nothing about. We get only one life, why am I taking so long? Who am I waiting for? Maybe you will share your expertise when you are done, like your kind friend over the phone.

I was just over at Steve's blog asking his advice about how the poet is to cope with the coming winter months, with the fading light and the dark dark blackness blanket of cold. Then I arrive here, and remember that you will provide the light.

Arti said...

You've pointed out, aptly, that winter in itself is a respite. See how the bears hibernate, after a harvest of berries gathering. I'm sure you've gathered some berries during your time at the Lake with Inge.

After watching a Kristin Scott Thomas movie recently, I'm rereading Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. The novel is like a prose poem, and also like the book Herodotus's Histories the English patient carries, a scrapbook of all his experiences and moments he treasures. That reminds me of your poems. I look forward to your compilation.

Vagabonde said...

I always delight in reading your poetry – so personal and simple but with so much meaning. I also like your pictures – the pink sky over the water and fog of your last post was dripping with rustic ambiance.

Christina said...

i am always so happy to read your words.
hello, friend.
xo

Loring Wirbel said...

Love this particular one. Shows that the retreat was well worth it.