Poems for Stuart, Part 2
Last time I read a poem by Marie Howe called “The Gate.” It’s one of the poems I considered reading for my friend Stuart who was visiting from Australia, and wished to capture a bit of video in which I would read something that spoke to where my life is right now, sort of the state of my spirit. Well, that was a difficult choice. Several poems came to mind almost at once. Each acknowledged life’s difficulty and darkness, but also hope and recovery. I’ve read a lot of what they call “Mindfulness Poetry” this last year. And the poems that mean most to me are the ones that recognize the reality of our suffering, but also the presence or potential of our joy. It is joy and peace which I can choose to move toward, and to live in.
So I emailed three poems to myself to be read from my phone that day, and I carried one hard copy of another with me. I would know when the time came which was the right poem to read. And though the one I read on video was the most fitting for the moment, and for the beautiful summer afternoon on which we recorded it, I felt it would be good to display the runners-up here on the blog, because they too are important, too important to not be read out loud.
Poems are created to be voiced, even if it’s just in your mind’s ear. You may have heard me say here on The Dad Poet in the past that a great way to get to know a poet, and what she or he was up to, is to read their works out loud. And I guess Stuart’s request has created in me a need to further explore why these particular poems chose me, and what else I can learn about myself and the poet who wrote them, by reading them for you.
As for the state of my soul . . .
Despite what horrors are brought to us from near and far, instantly through the marvels of our own created technologies–shootings and bombings, or the troubles from Brexit to Trump, in spite of lost friends and loved ones, life is ultimately good. I believe that. And while some days are very dark, most days it is not so much the darkness, but how we react to and choose to act in the dark that matters.
I choose to be at peace as much as possible, to sway like a branch when the wind blows, but not to be lost from the tree and my roots in it. I have much to be grateful for; I have three sons who have grown up to be good, kind, and intelligent young men; I have friends who stick, as that old book says, closer than brothers; I have the love and devotion of one particular man who cherishes my life. If I had only one of these things, I would be a fortunate man, rich beyond telling.