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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

poem: little tree

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little tree
for my newborn grandson, James

(I cannot speak this directly to him.
It must be in the second person.
What would happen if I told him what is here?

I am not ready to break anything
that is not yet broken open.
The world has just begun.)

His head is in my hands, mouth open,
eyes half-stupored. He is breathing me,
as if I am winter, to warm in his mouth.
He exhales me back to me.
My voice is a silver blue bead he fingers
with a perfect tongue.

He has not learned to forget
that the earth always has her mouth open,
holding the sea and not swallowing,
nesting the trees for their nesting birds,
breathing the sky and not throwing anything away.


January 2012

Poetry should be heard. Perhaps listen to me read while playing a song for Egon Schiele, below.

Painting "Little Tree (Chestnut Tree at Lake Constance)" by Egon Schiele

Listen to Rachel's song Egon & Gertie. . . .

02.egon & gertie by Rachel's on Grooveshark

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32 comments:

Margaret said...

"breathing me" and "holding the sea and not swallowing,"

Just exquisite as is the music and reading... and seeing that little face below, so perfectly innocent and curious. I am just so happy for you.

The "mothering" ache inside often takes me by surprise... that urge for another little one, my arms and heart quivering to hold such a miracle... I guess that will be my joy of being a grandparent someday in the far future...

am said...

Thank you for this poem and congratulations on becoming a grandmother. The song "Sweet Baby James" came back into my life a few days ago. Synchronicity everywhere this early a.m.
I'm here by way of Solitary Walker. Have not been out visiting blogs, except for a few favorites, for some time and am grateful to be at yours today.

Kind wishes,
am

Brendan said...

I wondered how you would take this enormous new presence into your poetry, and you exceed my expectations, finding words for what is so inarticulate yet intimate. Only poetry could reduce to "silver blue bead." And what you say about your grandson "learning to forget" comes in one sense from Rilke's Sonnets, that it takes a long time to figure out the ecstasy is truly within. In another, it reminds me of what Robert Bly once said about childhood being this big golden ball we reduce, piece by piece, into adulthood. Your savor of the present is more than sufficient: 'tis eternal. Cherish it .... Brendan

erin said...

ohhhh, i'll quote it back. i'll quote it back. there is nothing more.

I cannot speak this directly to him.
It must be in the second person.
What would happen if I told him what is here?

I am not ready to break anything
that is not yet broken open.
The world has just begun.)


and oh god, that last stanza!

i'm reminded as though walking through all sorrow (as though through a wind) that the world is, after all, perfect.

xo
erin

George said...

Very, very beautiful, Ruth, a poem that grows more profound with each reading. May young James never learn to forget the bounties of the earth you mention in the last stanza.

hedgewitch said...

The mystery of that small seed--amazing the power it has to become, and the insight it unveils for you into the larger construct.Mystical, lyrical, and a fine bit of writing.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

-happy sigh-

I have no eloquent words, to comment with...

Just...

-happy sigh-

We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls.
~~Robert R. McCammon

Maureen said...

Gorgeous, Ruth, especially the moving last stanza.

JeannetteLS said...

What Auntie sezzzzzz said.

What a blessing your poetry is. Clearly you need no one to tell you to hold close every moment. You've done that all along.

Shattered said...

Stunning words...

Jennifer

James Owens said...

the world begins with every new life

what frenzied work we put into forgetting that the world's mouth is always open .. and then what lessons it takes to remember ...

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, beautiful, so affecting... I loved it. I listened to you reading it too — indeed, it gives another dimension.

The Bug said...

Lovely, lovely... The breath of a newborn is one of most mystical & precious things there is...

Nancy said...

Ruth, another exquisite poem...so evocative. I'm in a poetry mood these days, and today's is my favorite of the five I read today, hands down!

Nancy

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

What intimacy. Imagine him having this insight from a grandmother's heart. What a forever.

Ruth, in this time of such endearment for you, please don't feel compelled to visit my blog today. I'm in my activism role - that's what it's about. I look forward to being finished with it. But I had to get it off my heart.

Ruth said...

Margaret, I am grateful for your mothering ache and appreciation for my poem for James. You're a wonderful mother from what I can see, and your grandmother time to come will be even grander, for you, and for your whole family.

Amanda, welcome, and thank you for your visit, especially after time away from blog visits. I am honored. Any friend of Robert's, as they say . . . And as for James Taylor, he's an old dear "friend" of mine.

Brendan, thank you so very much for finding all that in my poem. I, too, have wondered how writing would change, and how on earth I would find words. It means a lot that you find this successful. I keep feeling a twinge that these days of ecstasy will perhaps not last forever, even though, as you say, this present is eternal. But I am definitely savoring it, and yes, it is enough!

Ruth said...

erin, these are intensely lived and felt days. I treasure them, and you for feeling it here with me.

George, thank you very, very much. I take it upon myself to be a voice in James's ear so that he will not forget.

Hedge, yes, how this looms in my sight, well in all my senses. All my senses are alive with this little seed. Thanks so much.

Ruth said...

Auntie, thank you, that is quite enough. Eloquence has never been a requirement for feeling.

Maureen, thank you for reading, I'm pleased that you like my poem.

JeannetteLS, you are right that I have practiced holding moments close, at least some of the time. I guess that practice has prepared me for this to be intensely, very intensely close. Almost overpowering. But not. Thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Jennifer, thank you. I'm gratified that you find my words to express something of what I feel. I hope you are well.

James, (I have been tickled thinking of your name all these weeks, knowing it would be my grandson's name), I am deeply mystified, mortified and fascinated by the lifelong shift from newborn sight to society's unlearning. In some sense, there is great pleasure trying to remember later in life, so maybe I shouldn't mourn it all too much. Thank you for reading and for your nice comment.

Ruth said...

Robert, thank you for reading and listening. I'm glad you loved it. I suppose this ecstasy is not too unlike what you feel when you stand at the pinnacle of a peak, looking down on French or Swiss village in early morning light, after hours of labor to get to the top.

Dana, oh yes. I would love to spend many more eternal moments in this phase. I feel that I am already "grieving" that it will soon be past. But of course there are many phases to look forward to in James's life. Thank you!

Nancy, thank you for reading, and especially for favoring my poem! That is quite wonderful. :-)

Dear Amy, thank you for understanding how special this relationship is. And thank you for the caveat about your blog post. But now you have me quite curious, and I think I must visit! Don't worry, I have already been thinking about many things that are grievous this week, including the passing of a beloved professor in my department. xoxo

Susan Drummond said...

I can just imagine James' eyes following your mouth as you softly speak this beautiful poem to him, close to his face. Another "happy sigh". :)

Ruth said...

Susie, I haven't even told you yet, about reading to James on Monday before I left. Beatrix Potter, and it was just as you describe. :-) He was mesmerized for 15 minutes. Literary boy.

Peter Greene said...

Another fine piece...I always enjoy popping by here. Thanks for the - well, whatever a poem is. Enjoyed it, anyway! The earth with her mouth always open, holding the sea but not swallowing - mythical! excellent!
PG

ds said...

Ahhh...I love the way you cup the first two stanzas between parentheses, like an egg. Blue bubble, the open mouth of the earth that never swallows. James will not "unlearn" this: he has you to hold it before him and say--Look, Feel, Taste, Listen! And he will.
So beautiful, Ruth. Thank you.

Louise Gallagher said...

So beautiful and loving and tender and sweet. Like a sapling taking root.

Barb said...

So many things to learn and experience (both you and him) - I love this line: "He exhales me back to me."

Ruth said...

Hi, Peter! It's always nice when you visit as well. Thank you for your kind feedback. These are mythical days!

Dear ds, it is so tiny, this blue bubble egg of beauty, but as wide as a universe. Thank you, abundantly, for holding it with me.

Louise, this fragile time has heightened all my senses, the way it happens when you fall in love.

Barb, that is just it exactly, a brand new relationship-world, to learn from each other. Thank you.

Marcie said...

This is beautiful! One day - he'll be able to read and understand this as words his grandmother penned!

Jeanie said...

Oh, James, do you know what is in store for you to have this gifted woman as your grandmother? She will record her thoughts, your life, in a way that no one else can do. Treasure these poems and these words as spoken. They are yours.

Ginnie said...

I can see a new book forming...all to your grandson, Baby Poppy Seed James!

Loring Wirbel said...

Breathtaking and beautiful, Ruth.

deb colarossi said...

Ruth. You are genius.