For anyone interested, here is the link to the public radio interview I did this morning. The thoughtful and talented Kerri Miller and I talked about poetry, my poetry hut (pictured to the left there), teaching, writing, the making of Firefly Hollow, the inner lives of children (and grownups), what it means to be a lifelong adventurer, the freedom that comes when you stop caring what others think of you in favor of resting with your own intentions, how the death of someone you loved when you were young affects you then and forever, how a book can momentarily take the poverty and pain out of a child’s life, a novel I feared and hated as a teenager but never forgot, the enormous usefulness of waiting instead of acting, Galway Kinnell, teaching at my beloved Metropolitan State University, school bus bullies, and a whole bunch of other things.
Snow in the city is beautiful for about a day, sometimes two days if it’s a blizzard and no plows or cars can get through the streets. The minute the plows go through, that beauty degenerates into muddy ice, brown clumps flung up on curbs, nearly impassable single-file streets where cars take turns one by one. Snow in upstate New York, where I grew up, is beautiful for months (and months and months) on end, because there’s nothing to interfere with it. White and blue and green and pink, all the colors of snow in the shifting light, turn every field and wood into calm. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the rumble of snowplows sweeping down Route 274, their orange revolving light circling the walls of my room. Someone out there is taking care of us, is what the memory of that sound still feels like to me.
The Snow Arrives After Long Silence
– by Nancy Willard
The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or stains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.
The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
with clean linen, putting its house
in order. The hungry deer walk
on the risen loaves of snow.
You can follow the broken hearts
their hooves punch in its crust.
Night after night the big plows rumble
and bale it like dirty laundry
and haul it to the Hudson.
Now I scan the sky for snow,
and the cool cheek it offers me,
and its body, thinned into petals,
and the still caves where it sleeps.
For more information on Nancy Willard, please click here.
My Facebook page.
When I was a kid I used to read ee cummings’ poems not so much for the words but for the way he put them down on the page, all shoved up against each other, parentheses around some, weird punctuation, missing spaces, and the complete lack of upper case letters, down to the way he spelled his own name. Why why why why does he do it that way, I used to wonder. The strangeness and unconventionality was so fascinating. He was a Famous Person so I knew that all these choices must be intentional, but why why why?
If at first I didn’t care about the poems themselves, now I love them. Mr. Cummings is one of my most beloved poets, in fact. A small white used paperback copy of his 50 Poems that I found at a garage sale sits on a shelf in the living room; this poem felt right for today.
in spite of everything
– e.e. cummings
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
– before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.
For more about ee cummings, please click here.