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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poem: Blue hour

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Blue hour

The tall spruce with wild
but silent upcurled arms
conducts the cool dark night
on a track of wind into morning’s
thinness; like God, and I lying still
under him; my moon-white face
a lit candle floating in the font
of the hot tub; the wind on my face
and arms as if prayers whispered
from a distant train; rumbling through
the entire outdoor room; the barn,
house, rocking bamboo, the hunters
asleep next door; nowhere is there
a smell of death, no deer hung,
no blood, no mouse in the mouth
of a snowy owl; this is God’s early
hour when lips are still closed, when
prayers for the dying are snored
through noses like praise out the back
door; when the doe rises on groggy
legs, believing the tender leaves
are still wet, still green.
 

We learned early Thanksgiving (Thursday) morning that my 83-year-old mother-in-law was suffering in a crisis of renal infection that had spread into her blood. It has been touch and go since then; Friday we thought we might lose her, but thanks to her medical team who made difficult decisions that saved her, and to her strength of will, she is recovering steadily, though still in ICU. This poem comes out of my morning prayers for her. "Blue Hour" — in the French "l'Heure Bleue" — called Madrugada in Spanish and Portuguese; it is the twilight between the full dark of night and the light of day. For me it is a magic hour, when occasionally dark possibilities clutch from the night, but more often my thoughts lean toward brightness and hope, toward everyday miracles in the large and small cycles of life.  
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48 comments:

Brendan said...

First, glad to hear your mother-in-law improves; losing her at Thanksgiving would pall a heavy note on the holiday (but who are we to chose?) Second, you know I'm also a rabid fan of the blue hour, so savoring this poem is like, well, having a go in that hot tub myself with the poem as its warm water. The purity of that early hour is so fresh and alive here, uncluttered, unfettered. It's eternally young, nascent, first, a matin of celebration. My only dreary workshop comment is that I read the last line with two "stills" -- "are still wet, still green." The duplication nails it in place. Or a timely suspension, as in "still wet, forever green"? Very minor stuff though. thanks for the psalm, this clear glass of blue hour.

Ruth said...

Brendan, thanks for your concerns for my mother-in-law. We are much relieved.

And thanks for your kind comaraderie in the blue hour, and with this poem. I sometimes wonder that so few of us are up to feel its magic; but at the same time, I don't necessarily want to share it; it's a time of solitude that is well kept and well loved. Thank you for your suggestion, your fine and quick ear that needed another "still"; I have added it.

George said...

Very, very lovely, Ruth, and deeply meaningful. My best wishes for the speedy recovery of your mother-in-law.

Ruth said...

George, many thanks for your expressions of appreciation for the poem, and for your recovery wishes for my mother-in-law. I will take them with me when we go and visit her with family shortly.

Leena said...

She have to see her granddaughter`s baby, she have to see him!!
It also gives energy and strength to her.
I was living with you by reading your touching poem, Ruth.
Warm greetings
Leena

Grandmother said...

I'm picturing you and the monks and the tall spruce chanting your poem prayers while the world sleeps until the doe joins you in shared hope. I love the image you wove. Blessings and strength for you, your mother-in-law and your family.

Ginnie said...

Thank you, Sister, for the update...and for the poetry of your heart that heals even you.

hedgewitch said...

It's a magic time, that hour, when all the world rests, even the night creatures headed for their day time hideaways. I used to enjoy it every day when I worked the early shift, getting up at 3:00 am--now its like a rare treat when insomnia leads me there. Your poem gives a sense of place so strongly, the outdoor room that we make of a vastness that otherwise overwhelms..I love the ending lines especially, and your face that floats like a wicked moon. Beautiful, and glad to hear things are stabilizing with your mother in law.

The Solitary Walker said...

Lovely, Ruth. I couldn't help thinking of Dylan Thomas again in some of the words and phrases! (That's not a criticism.) Love the 'distant train' echoing the'track of wind', the abrupt shock of 'like God' mid-line, the doe's 'groggy legs'.

Warm thoughts and supportive prayers winging their way over to you from me at this difficult time.

rosaria said...

Like an early chant, at the break of day! Blessings to you and your loved ones.

jen revved said...

This is such a gorgeous liquefaction of image, one to the next, clearly the full heart spilling over-- it feels as though it is one that came all of a piece-- I breathe it in and it becomes part of me. xxxxj

Miss Jane said...

Beautiful vision of Matins.
I felt a bit unmoored by the hot tub and train, as though I wasn't quite ready for those thoughts/concepts to come after "God"--isn't that funny?
The last line and image is wonderfully life-affirming and reminds me of the "green, real green" in the Rilke post a few days back.
"a track of wind into morning’s
thinness; like God, and I lying still
under him; my moon-white face
a lit candle floating in the font"
that section left me a little breathless--lovely linkage. A wonderful post, as usual.

Pat said...

"the wind on my face
and arms as if prayers whispered
from a distant train"

Such beautiful imagery

So glad your mother-in-law is doing better

Barb said...

As your poem celebrates hope and life, I wish the same for your mother-in-law.

Marcie said...

What a beautiful poem (and image) to come out of your mother-in-law's failing health. Sending you all healing thoughts and well-wishes!

erin said...

i am so glad that your mother-in-law's spirit and body are so strong. and such hope in your poem. but i wonder - (oh, hit me!) i wonder, is there ever a time when the snowy owl has no mouse in its mouth? and is this not god, too? how we want it to be otherwise, but how the blood runs even through the blue hour.

i am with jane. this part especially is breathtaking. how intimate lying beneath god like this.

xo
erin

ds said...

Oh, I am sorry about your mother-in-law's crisis, but relieved that the worst has passed. I'll be thinking of you (all).
Thank you for your Madrugada poem. When I was regularly up at that time, it was indeed a magical hour (or two). Moon-faced, lying under God, the doe. Wonderful, that doe.

Maureen said...

A beautiful and moving poem to "God's early hour", Ruth; reading it is so lovely a way to close out my evening.

Offering prayers for your mother-in-law's continuing recovery. May peace be with her and you and yours.

amy@ Souldipper said...

Deep, comforting, peaceful, calming blue. I can feel a change within. Happy to greet the cool breeze with a hot face.

It helps me know that all is well no matter the outcome.

Thank you for this peaceful serving.

Peter said...

A wonderful way you « translate » the blue hour into what’s happening in real life!!

The blue hour is supposed to be the best for photos, easier to experience these autumn and winter days for someone who like me have a tendency to go to bed very late and wake up… :-)

Ruth said...

Leena, yes, great grandma must meet baby poppy seed! Thankfully, she is doing much better. Thank you for your spirit, which I feel from far away.

Ruth said...

Mary, ahh, me and the monks. I never understood the magic blue hour until I was well into adulthood, even menopause, when hot flashes awoke me. Now, I feel cheated if I don't have long enough in this darkness to welcome the gradually opening light. Thank you for reading, feeling, and for your wishes for my mother-in-law and her family. She is much improved.

Ruth said...

Boots, thank you for expressing that so beautifully. And thank you for your support and care through this crisis. xoxox

Ruth said...

Hedge, thanks so much for your attentions to the poem, and the memory of the blue hour in your own experience. It's nice to think that insomnia for you is not all bad, because I feel the same. Thanks again for your concern for my mother-in-law. Her kidney was still not functioning yesterday, and so she will continue on dialysis today.

Ruth said...

Robert, thanks much for your response to my poem. I wish you and I could sit and converse about Dylan Thomas!

And I so appreciate your warm thoughts and prayers for my mother-in-law. She is very much improved, but her kidney is still not functioning, so your winged prayers will continue to carry her.

Ruth said...

rosaria, it's becoming a habit!

Thank you for your blessings, which are much felt and appreciated.

Ruth said...

Dear Jenné, thank you for your very kind response to my poem.

I had to pause when I read that you felt this came all of a piece, and reflect on the process. I had worked for a couple of days to enter the poem; I had difficulty finding a way in. But once the work was done, yes, it did come all of a piece. Interesting when this happens.

Ruth said...

Hello and thanks, MJ. Who knows where the wind blows, and where from? It was actually surprising that God in the fifth line was a surprise to some, because he/she/it was so much in my mind in this write. But of course, the reader is not privy to such thoughts. Isn't that funny? Thanks so much for reading closely, and for your kind response.

Ruth said...

Pat, thank you very much for reading and responding kindly. And thank you for sharing our joy at my mother-in-law's progress.

Ruth said...

Barb, thank you for that lovely thought.

Louise Gallagher said...

Prayers for your family and your mother-in-law -- and it is wonderful to hear she is healing.

This poem, this vision, this image, all of this is beautiful. I feel the magic of the blue hour calling my soul to unite with yours in that place of wonder that this world, this time, this place is all we have to celebrate.

Let's dance together.
Sing.
Rejoice
in the wonder that is this moment in time.

Namaste.

Ruth said...

Dear Marcie, thank you for your beautiful wishes and response to the poem.

Deslilas said...

Best wishes for you and your mother-in-law.
L'heure bleue est plus porteuse d'espoir que la période symétrique "entre chien et loup".

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

I too love "l'Heure Bleue" ...

Best wishes for your mother in law's continued recovery.

Gentle hugs,
"There are so many good shops here. ... One can step out of doors and get a thing in five minutes."
"Northanger Abbey," by Jane Austin

Ruth said...

erin, I thought of what you get at many times while writing this poem. I kept hitting myself. :-) Yes, the blood is always here. Maybe the blue hour is most of all when I come to terms with what is, and what I want. It is time when my imagination runs with what is given. There are moments of reprieve from suffering, mostly the suffering of others. Maybe it's that relief that changes the scent of blood to what the God of the Old Testament might wish for: the scent of sacrifice and surrender. I thought of you when I wrote. I thought of this that you would say. And I'm glad of it. We can't forget death in Life.

xoxo

Ruth said...

ds, thank you, my friend. We are so cheered by your concern and relief shared with us. Mom needs to pee; that is our next hurdle.

It is nice to know you have your own history with Magrugada.

Ruth said...

Dear Maureen, I appreciate you reading and closing your evening with it. Thank you for your prayers and blessing for my mother-in-law and our family. It has been such an intense few days, including immense joy when we saw her come to with advice and jokes yesterday!

Ruth said...

Amy, your comment is beautiful, thank you. All is well, yes, no matter the outcome. I am so pleased that you found peace here.

Ruth said...

Peter, perhaps you are going to bed when I get up, but that is probably not quite right for Paris time. I wonder if I will continue to rise early in retirement. :-)

Ruth said...

Louise, I so love this dance together. It is magic, is it not? In the blue hour I feel that anything is possible. The veil is lifted. Fantasy seems real. But more importantly, we are all one, and I forget walls and borders. Thank you, my friend. Peace, and yes, I recognize the divine in you too.

Ruth said...

Deslilas, merci pour vos souhaits bien. Et oui, la langue est très importante!

Ruth said...

Auntie, thank you for your kind wishes for my mother-in-law, and for the gentle hugs. Truly the anxiety of these days has been eased by loving wishes and by our time with family.

Jeanie said...

Reading backwards, I could tell your mother-in-law was improving, but oh, the concern you must have experienced. Much to be thankful for, albeit a few days after the holiday. She sounds like a strong, amazing woman. I'm so glad for you.

James Owens said...

Hello, Ruth. Thank you for your visit and your kind words. I have been coming here and reading for a time, referred by Erin, of course, and I have been sustained and fed here. I love the poem. Perhaps we all are shaken in the mouth of God as an owl shakes a mouse, and that violence is a form of grace -- but there is also grace in this hour of transition when it is possible to believe the light is kind....

Ruth said...

Jeanie, it was funny, at the hospital on Sunday when she took an incredible turnaround for the better, that we all reflected on her tenacity in life, and how apparent it was in this physical crisis!

Ruth said...

Hello, and welcome, James. It is such a pleasure to meet you here. I feel tears, inexplicably, at your presence, through these words you've left on my page, which somehow reconcile what erin and I discussed, and I feel full as a result. I don't mean the mystery is solved, or gone. I just mean that the way you put it makes my spirit say yes, this is understanding.

Arti said...

That's exactly what Joan Didion's recent memoir is about and why it's entitled Blue Nights. The lingering twilight mashing with oncoming darkness. What precarious moment... I wish your mother-in-law all the best in her recovery. I'm just thinking, your soothing voice reading poetry could be a soothing balm...

Oliag said...

What really grabbed me was your image of the waning moon as I was reading your lovely poem inspired by your 83 year old mother in law....another type of poem:)

I do hope all is well with her...