I miss the home of Italy today - those cobbled together streets and narrow houses and especially the feeling that you might stumble upon the most beautiful moment everywhere.
Today I got the chance to talk about one of the things I love to talk about most: poetry. If you spend much time around me, before too long poetry will emerge. I love to soak in the words of Auden and Frost, to listen as Anne Sexton talks to Mary Oliver and the two of them roll the words of Pablo Neruda around too.
The truest poets are always talking to each other.
And so I wanted to offer two poems for you to muse over your cup of hot chocolate tonight, your decaffeinated tea, or maybe that nice glass of Riesling you've been saving for a windy and cold night like tonight.
Lisel Mueller wrote this one. She is one of those poets, those people, who seems to sit her words down in the world and teach them how to tell the story she sees. And after moments of seeing Fra Angelico's "Annunciation"and then Botticelli's in the Uffizi galleries in Florence, this idea, this annunciation, appears and reappears in my thoughts. She cherishes words well. Couldn't we learn to cherish words too?
The Annunciation (Lisel Mueller)
Dusk was the angel, as she sat under
the gray stone arch, feeling tender
towards the creatures of evening: rabbit and plover
coming to drink from her jug, never
before so tame. The sun had dropped to its burrow
behind the hill, and the narrow
virgin body of iris withdrawn in its sheath,
though roses were still spread beneath,
the love of bees. The patient jaws of silence
swallowed stray noises, and distance,
like dreams and water, retreated beyond itself,
learning her marginless, half-
willing to run from the hovering mystery
(thieflike in shadow, til she
should say, approach and enter into my mind).
Dusk was the angel. She found
her courage and bid him deliver the word
gently, gently. But when she heard
the rush of his wings, she cried, God, God,
at the encroaching sky, and the child
in her womb was made quick at the name.
Then she knew all. The angel went as he came.
And then, because it is good to share the poetic thoughts that emerge in ourselves as well, here is a little something I wrote while looking at this beautiful painting hidden in the heart of Italy:
Annunciation (Hilary Sherratt)
We are so small, Mary and I.
My shadow leaks on the hem of her robe.
We watch the violent arrival, the clatter of wings and angel.
Air, cold, flickers across our faces.
Her arms stretch down to touch the flame.
The landing shakes the earth,
I shudder in my coat as I feel his weight hit ground.
Dimensions are irrelevant now,
the ordinary perspective and frame,
paint dripped on canvas begins to breathe -
blasted from the gilded confinement by the question
the Logos spoken.
She already says yes. I see it
form in her mouth and reach out to touch it
in her wary palms. She does not run.
I hear the question and scamper,
never ready, never sure, my shadow fluttering like a moth
against the steadiness of her shape.
God's annunciation arrives
quick and she is already saying yes.
My small body pressed close to the frozen moment,
I creak out a whisper, Me, too.
Hilary (who loves poetry)