Thursday, June 01, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This is what Liz Elayne had to say about the (c.a.t.o.) prompt for Poetry Thursday this week: "Many people believe that poetry is often best understood when read aloud. This week's (completely and totally optional) idea prompts you to do just that: have a poetry reading (by yourself). Find a place in your house, your car, your backyard, the park, some place where you can be alone and read some poetry. You might choose to read your own poem or you might read the words of someone else, just give yourself permission to read the words out loud to the world around you, to your dog or cat, to a tree, to your laptop, to your reflection in a mirror..." She then invited us to share the experience. I like this idea! This is one I can do! So I grabbed my copy of Mary Oliver's book "West Wind" and headed outside. I decided I was going to read her poem "Black Oaks" to my favorite oak tree in the front yard. (Hey, it is NOT crazy! Liz said it was ok!) But then my dog Riley followed me outside and I decided to read the poem to her instead. She was very attentive, although I'm not sure she was especially impressed. I can't say I blame her. It's a good poem, but I'm not good at reading aloud - never have been, which is a bit odd since I love to read and am not particularly bothered by public speaking, at least not usually...not when I'm just speaking my own words in my own way. But when I read aloud my eyes and my mouth seem to want to move at different speeds. I stumble over the words, my rhythms are awkward and forced, I tend to transpose words, or miss some entirely. I wouldn't be at all comfortable reading poetry aloud to other people! But Riley was kind. That's the great thing about a dog. They don't judge. She did not, however, request an encore. So while she relaxed in a handy patch of shade near the porch, I headed on out to the oak tree for a visit, just because I still thought it might be nice to read the poem in the shade of my favorite oak. It was. Nice, that is. Maybe you can imagine yourself in the cool, green shade of an oak tree as you read along. "Black Oaks" Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary, or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance and comfort. Not one can manage a single sound, though blue jays carp and whistle all day in the branches, without the push of the wind. But to tell the truth after a while I'm pale with longing for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen and you can't keep me from the woods, from the tonnage of their shoulders, and their shining green hair. Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a little sunshine, a little rain. Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from one boot to another - why don't you get going? For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees. And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money, I don't even want to come in out of the rain. ~~~Mary Oliver "In the Mossy Shadows"