Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The words, the world, the birthday--

Today my mother is 82. I know that I said she would be 83, but it turns out that she is a mere sprat of 82. Math was never my strong suit, I fear. She is hosting my eldest son for his spring break and weaving on her big new loom and doing I-don't-know-what. Probably she has been spending a good deal of time cooking for Ben.

In her honor I have written a Precious Wentletrap poem, "The Fool Thinks of Precious Wentletrap as Morpho." Shocking: this is my 132nd The Book of the Red King poem. Who would have thought when I wrote the first one exactly five months ago?

But now I must hie me from the e-felicity of the web and drudge in the flesh because tomorrow we are fetching and then hosting Lauren, Jin, and Rebecca from Bard College. For ten days. And the house upstairs is something akin to the wreck of the Hesperus. Welcome to my little disaster, dear young women!

Nevertheless, I am feeling irrationally joyful. Which is madness.

My heart is broken into little shiny pieces by what is unfolding in Japan and Libya and many other places. I just read a story about one group of human beings murdering another group (a large family, mostly children) in their beds and then setting off fireworks and giving out sweetmeats in celebration. I read another story about one group of human beings who murdered some families under cover of an inspiring and supposedly peaceful revolution. All these groups were divided by the way they worship God, and I am wondering where the love is in all these terrible acts of persecution that go endlessly on. When will the family of humanity learn to love?

And yet, and yet . . . I look out the window at the light on the snow and the gazebo covered with dried Dutchman's pipe vines and the blue sky: I see the world and that it is good. Only we human beings pry and shift it from the axis of what is right. All the same, whoever you are, I wish you a glad St. Patrick's Day, with an imaginary card showing the saint whirling about, chasing the snakes out of Ireland, blessing the world with his love. May all the metaphorical snakes be chased out of your country or be changed to something higher--little winged dragons that lift and fly against the sunset, singing words of great sweetness.

I am thankful that my mother was born on this day and that I was given the lovely gifts of consciousness, the desire to make, and words. And that, despite all, streaks of joy like burning arrows pass through me.

***
Want Morpho? Start here with Wikipedia, where the image was found. (Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.)

18 comments:

  1. Oh, Happy Day to your Mother!!
    And how fun for you to have your house full of exciting young women.

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  2. Birthday greetings to your mother. May she celebrate in whichever way she finds most pleasing.

    I have seen the blue morpho. My home is near a butterfly garden, which features them each summer season. Such exquisite, skittish, shy creatures.

    Much like some poets.

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  3. zephyr,

    Thanks for flitting by on our first warmish day! You must have brought the weather. Now I'm hoping it will melt the snow.

    Elsa Louise,

    Now there's a name combination I haven't seen. Very pretty.

    You know, it is said that the morpho butterflies are more fragile in butterfly houses because their flight is so wobbly. I guess they get a little more wing damage than most... But those little tetrahedral scales catch the light so wonderfully.

    Thanks for that graceful comment, Elsa Louise!

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  4. Marly,

    Happy Birthday to your mom and have fun with the children over.

    As horrible as some world events paint humanity, there is hope.

    I say a prayer for the young person who didn't flee -who couldn't flee - and held the hand of his elderly grandfather when the water started to flow in through broken windows and wash their house away.

    For the old woman who was home with her adult daughter with a developmental disability, who realized what horror lay ahead before her daughter did, and just hugged and sang to her daughter as she had for 50 years as the roof caved in and the cold air and water numbed them and took them away.

    To the two hundred or so people who testified in Concord, NH last week and seemingly begging for government money when in reality they were trying to educate new representatives on history and fiscal reality and true sacrifice and what "choosing life" and "family values" *really* mean -- likely, and knowingly, in vain and to hardened souls that could hear, but were nonetheless deaf.

    Ultimately the planet is one big fish tank trying to reach equilibrium. Although I am not fond of the idea, I believe evil has to exist to ensure that good prevails.

    Have a great spring break and may goodness appear to you in many ways!

    Gary

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  5. Thank you for this beautifu and at the same time heartbreaking post and comments. May this day bring you and your mother those incredible and evanescent spots of joy and hope!

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  6. Happy birthday to your mother, and will you send the publisher who just accepted your Red King book this poem too?
    Enjoy having the girls at your home, which will ease the heartbreak of what is happening right now across the globe.

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  7. Gary,

    What a good note to send back! Thank you. And I certainly believe that goodness stands like a torch in the midst of the dark of evil.

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  8. marja-leena,

    Shall have to see what you are up to once I get through the current excitement. Our daughter just decided we should come and get her right now! Off goes my husband while I scramble around to clean.

    Robbi,

    I must be confusing at this point. I do have six books coming out, but I have not yet sent "The Book of the Red King" anywhere. He's not quite ready to go out and about as yet.

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  9. Hm. I must be delusional (what else is new?),as I thought you said someone accepted it already for publication.

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  10. So much joy and celebration in your words.

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  11. I was thrilled to read this post in honor of your sweet Mother. She is so precious to me & to our family. I will always be grateful we were next door neighbors & that our Mothers were such good friends. Much love to your sweet Mother & joyous celebration! Enjoy the laughter & joy of the college age women in your home-they grow up way too fast!

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  12. So thrilled to see this sweet post in honor of your precious Mother. I will always be grateful we were next door neighbors & that our Mothers were such good friends. Joyous celebration to your sweet Mother! Enjoy the college age women in your home- such fun & they grow up way too fast!
    7:16 PM, March 17, 2011

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  13. i'm trying my best! Tomorrow may do it?

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  14. Watching the blue morpho is a study in patience, and it helps to be ever ready with a camera. Your comment about their wobbly nature is quite true, made manifest in their raggedy wing-tips. Their behavior is so unlike that of many other butterflies, some of which will even alight on quiet humans. Not the morpho.

    The other issue, of course, is when the morphos finally do pause, they struggle to fully relax and open out their beauteous wings, so that we can admire their glorious blueness.

    I appreciate your kind words in re my name.

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  15. Robbi,

    I do have about 40 of them out or accepted... probably that was it. I've just been startled by how easily they find homes. But I have lots more not ready to go yet.

    Hello, Hannah!

    And I have just spent a riotous evening with the visitors, and then stayed up till almost three talking with my daughter...

    Elsa Louise,

    That sounds lovely. A woman with blue morphos lighting on her would be dazzled indeed! So perhaps it is just as well that they wobble away.

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  16. zephyr,

    Oops, I missed the wafting spring zephyr! All efforts to bring on spring are welcomed!

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  17. I was thrilled to read this post in honor of your sweet Mother. She is so precious to me & to our family. I will always be grateful we were next door neighbors & that our Mothers were such good friends. Much love to your sweet Mother & joyous celebration! Enjoy the laughter & joy of the college age women in your home-they grow up way too fast!

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  18. Gigi,

    The memory of your mother means a lot to me--even though she is caught in time at a place I can't reach, I think of her often.

    Jin is so much fun! I am already having a grand time. Lauren had to stay (too much work left), but we hope she will come in a few days.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.