Thursday, February 02, 2023

The poet's day

 Way back, in the heyday of personal blogs, someone - I forget who - started a tradition of "do a silent poetry reading on February 2 in honor of St. Brigid/Candlemass/Groundhog Day/Imbolc" and a lot of bloggers, across different blog formats, celebrated along.

A lot of the knitting bloggers did it.

I liked that. I liked the idea of us sharing a little tradition, I liked that tiny thread of connection. I still do it even though I think I am now one of very few "personal" long-form bloggers (who is not a substack or a paid blog or a political blog) any more. But I will keep doing it, in memory of what once was, and in hopes that maybe some day there will be a smaller and nicer and more-personal web out there, where friendships can be made and people can share their niche interests without the push to "monetize" or turn them into a side-hustle.

I wasn't sure what to post for this year - I've run through most of my big favorite poems in the close to 20 years I've been posting them, but then I ran across this one a couple days ago on twitter.

it is by Ada Limón, who wrote it for Greenpeace, so I guess it's "really" about what we're doing to the environment, but upon my first reading of it I also read it as "what these past few years have done to me, to my personality" and especially the line "I miss who I was" but also the idea that somewhere, deep underneath the pain and the emotional scars, there is still that person I was.


On the top of Mount Pisgah, on the western
slope of the Mayacamas, there’s a madrone
tree that’s half-burned from the fires, half-alive
from nature’s need to propagate. One side
of her is black ash and at her root is what
looks like a cavity that was hollowed out
by flame. On the other side, silvery green
broadleaf shoots ascend toward the winter
light and her bark is a cross between a bay
horse and a chestnut horse, red and velvety
like the animal’s neck she resembles. I have
been staring at the tree for a long time now.
I am reminded of the righteousness I had
before the scorch of time. I miss who I was.
I miss who we all were, before we were this: half
alive to the brightening sky, half dead already.
I place my hand on the unscarred bark that is cool
and unsullied, and because I cannot apologize
to the tree, to my own self I say, I am sorry.
I am sorry I have been so reckless with your life.

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