Thursday, January 03, 2008

"The Light, please!": A reflection on today's poem

Don't we all want a little light when dis-assembling something?
Why not dis-assembly?!


I'm just thinking of last night. Standing in the shadowy hallway of my home, where I am actively conquering dark corners, darker closets, and unpacking them. Taking things down, out, looking at them, laying them aside.

"I must clean!"
I will clean.
I do clean.

Last night's surprise contents of this supposed linen and medical supplies closet:
Includes the never-opened-embroidered-pillow-cases-From Laura Ashley in London.
(Good God! The sticker price in pounds was still fixed to the packaging! Who was it that was in London, before the European Common Market, and returned with this delightful gift? Hmmm....)

It is Christmas again.
Over and over in my house, these days, as my own un-packaging/ unpacking goes.


And that takes me back into the heart of this poem by Jane Kenyon.
It's after Christmas. Taking down the tree. She is at work in her own dis-assembly.
Bless Ms. Kenyon as she aligns this process with death! (Murder!)

Read the poem! Read and breathe it in.
Go to her description of the lingering balsam fir. The scent in memory, in unlit spaces.

Oh, if we all might have, or know extravagance in such seemingly dark times....

This is my prayer for the day.


Poem: "Taking Down the Tree" by Jane Kenyon, from Collected Poems (buy now) © Graywolf Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.

Taking Down the Tree

"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it's dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.

The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother's childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.

With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.

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