Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poem for Sunday

The Edges of Time
By Kay Ryan

It is at the edges
that time thins.
Time which had been
dense and viscous
as amber suspending
intentions like bees
unseizes them. A
humming begins,
apparently coming
from stacks of
put-off things or
just in back. A
racket of claims now,
as time flattens. A
glittering fan of things
competing to happen,
brilliant and urgent
as fish when seas


"If a poem is going to be any good, I have to write it before I feel I should, when I am still quite ignorant of its subject," writes Ryan in Poet's Choice. "I undertook 'The Edges of Time' with no more than a tiny vision of time as a physical substance, flattening out at the edges...what got me thinking about the subject of time was my habit, long noted by my partner, Carol, of suddenly having to do all kinds of things just when it was time for us to walk out the door to go someplace. Carol would stand there, keys in hand; why did I have to put away the dishes now?" It makes her laugh, she adds, "to think that a poem that I can now easily read as a meditation on the approach of death -- and which moves me because Carol did become ill and did die, and both of us did feel the 'racket of claims' mentioned in the poem -- was written to explain why I couldn't get out the front door. If I tried to write the poem now, it would be too grave; I would know too much;"

I had the nicest Rosh Hashanah in ages, despite missing going out for pancakes with my parents before services (which wouldn't have been possible this year anyway, since my kids have outgrown the family service at the synagogue, which uses its own service rather than any Reform liturgy and which has storytelling in place of a sermon). I know I've mentioned that I come closer to agnosticism in High Holy Day services there than anywhere else, even though both my kids celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs in that sanctuary. The High Holy Days were the only days I ever went to services growing up and I would like to find a congregation (Earth-based, eco-friendly, small enough that the rabbi remembers our names without prompting) that clicks for me, but I didn't have time between the Bar Mitzvah and our travels, and I was not going to drag my family to these services that only make me feel hostile toward organized religion.

So instead we went and hiked in the woods near Riley's Lock, where the water is full of herons and ducks and turtles, then we went to pick apples at Homestead Farm, which has goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and other animals as well as the beginning of the pumpkin crop and lots of other harvest fruits and vegetables. The first time I ever visited this farm was with one of the kids' Hebrew school classes -- we picked apples to give to the Hebrew Home -- which I thought would be a nice thing to do in lieu of sitting in services looking at my watch and thinking about what I was going to write in my Lost Symbol review. Apple picking was at its peak, and the weather could not have been more beautiful. We got a butternut squash to make soup and some cider as well as the apples.

Apples ripe on the trees at Homestead Farm.

The goats on the goat-walk enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Earlier, we saw lots of wildlife at Riley's Lock, including this green heron...

...this great blue heron...

...and this duck, which younger son thought might be a grebe.

There were also turtles, some sunning on logs...

...and some covered in duckweed in the shade.

Autumn is just beginning to show its colors.

We watched Lifetime's Georgia O'Keeffe movie in the evening, which had several assets (Joan Allen, Jeremy Irons, Tyne Daly, Ed Begley Jr.) and one big drawback (a histrionic script that did a disservice to just about everyone). There's almost nothing about O'Keeffe's development as an artist except inasmuch as Stieglitz encouraged and later the desert inspired her -- no real discussion of her flowers, even, only a suggestion that she painted them as therapy after Stieglitz dumped her for a younger woman -- which he did to a large degree, but though she might not have chosen an open marriage, he supposedly wasn't the only one who took advantage of it. We didn't watch any football but I hear that the Terrapins blew it, anyway!

No comments: