I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
Jen and I had our twelve-week appointment this morning, and everything is looking good and healthy, I’m happy to report. We heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time–a sound I have kept hearing since.We’re very excited, and glad to be beginning the second trimester, and enjoying this time of anticipation and what it means for us.I appreciated talking with each of you earlier this month with the news–your support, your stories. Thank you.
I have been contemplating this place and time in life–being 33. It is an interesting but hard to define stage. I have particularly been trying to explore the concept of the Jesus Year, as Jesus was supposedly 33 for the bulk of his ministry, betrayal, and death. The concept is that by the age of 33, you should have done something big–perhaps not have saved us all from sin and hell, mind you, but something large in terms of a contribution. Do we die a metaphorical death in this year? And if so, what is on the other side? What does it mean to contribute something, and something big or important, by this age? I’ve been trying to think through this a bit, and write about it in some way as a project.
What does the Jesus Year hold for you, and what do you make of this idea generally, and in terms of your own lives?
For me, I’m interested in finding larger struggles beyond myself, and maybe that’s ultimately what one can do that lives up to, in part, the example of Jesus. And yet. Here, this year, I’ve been given everything–a good life, companionship, good work, and even a more flexible schedule so that I can teach this fall (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and so that I can write (something I’ve always wanted). Why does this still seem like it falls short? Why are my struggles still primarily with myself? Is this part of the experience of being 33, as a sort of crossroads year? A year in which I know many of my peers are far more successful in terms of what the culture says is successful? Why is it that I still can’t eat right, exercise right, balance my life? Maybe the Jesus Year is the year we are supposed to compare ourselves to Jesus, yes, but really what we do is compare ourselves to everyone else?
But more generally, does this stage of life have any common or universal traits among the culture at large? Are most people already married? already married and divorced? having children? getting higher promotions? running for office? changing jobs? moving? taking up some cause?
I thought you would all be interested in this, seeing as, for a little while longer, at least, we’re all 33, our high school and college classmates are, most of them, 33, and I suspect several of our friends, cousins, and others around us are 33. And we haven’t had a larger question posed lately, so it seems like a good time. Any thoughts?
Before National Poetry Month wanes entirely, here is another spring poem. This one is by D.A. Powell, author of Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails.
sprig of lilac
—for Haines Eason
in a week you could watch me crumble to smut: spent hues
spent perfumes. dust upon the lapel where a moment I rested
yes, the moths have visited and deposited their velvet egg mass
the gnats were here: they smelled the wilt and blight. they salivated
in the folds of my garments: you could practically taste the rot
look at the pluck you’ve made of my heart: it broke open in your hands
oddments of ravished leaves: blossom blast and dieback: petals drooping
we kissed briefly in the deathless spring. the koi pond hummed with flies
unbutton me now from your grasp. no, hold tighter, let me disappear
into your nostrils, into your skin, a powdery smudge against your rough cheek
It IS National Poetry Month, so I shouldn’t let it get away without a current Poetry Post. This one from fellow Kansan Albert Goldbarth, who teaches at Wichita State University and who is the only poet to have twice won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. This poem is from the “new” section in his recently published (by Graywolf, no less) The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems 1972-2007. Enjoy. And happy National Poetry Month to you.
If you write a poem about love …
the love is a bird,
the poem is an origami bird.
If you write a poem about death …
the death is a terrible fire,
the poem is an offering of paper cutout flames
you feed to the fire.
We can see, in these, the space between
our gestures and the power they address
—an insufficiency. And yet a kind of beauty,
a distinctly human beauty. When a winter storm
from out of nowhere hit New York one night
in 1892, the crew at a theater was caught
unloading props: a box
of paper snow for the Christmas scene got dropped
and broken open, and that flash of white
confetti was lost
inside what it was a praise of.
Here’s a poetry post for Valentine’s Day. I recommend this one to give or read to your respective loves. Sadly, my beloved is in India for work, so we’re celebrating, as we can, from afar. I’ll be somewhere with a Guinness, remembering Galway…
Here’s to all of you and yours. –Shotts
Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Mitchell
I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
Following suit, here’s a poem of mine.
“They say not to anthropomorphize…”
It is the sin we all commit,
To make things in our image.
But how can I empathize
With you that have been shot,
Burned, poisoned, demonized,
Hunted, trapped, and hung for hides,
Born into this Manifest demise.
It is not human inclination
To leave things untouched;
But between us, I know,
There can be no suture.
For you are another nation,
Perfect in nature.
And maybe redemption will come
When it is enough
To love without sight
To love without touch
To succumb to the knowledge –
That freedom does not bend
For the hubris of men.