…my apologies to Robert Frost.
There are so many walkways, pathways, alleyways, and streets here in Jakarta Selatan that I’ve not walked yet, but it is fun taking photographs of them.
It started snowing last night. By the morning, the world around my house was white and snowy and full of gleeful children’s voices sliding down our neighborhood sledding hill. But last night?
Last night, the world got quiet. The poet David Berman has a line in his poem Snow that goes like this: “Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.” There is a closeness, a quietness, a peacefulness about a snowy night. The whole world goes quiet.
I’m not sure how I missed this photo, but back in October I had the privilege of taking forty students to Vancouver to the Writer’s Festival. While there, I witnessed an amazing poet: Zaccheus Jackson. He was born an addict, a product of Canada’s foster child program, a former addict and convict and now a voice for taking life for what it is: amazing. Not beautiful all the time. Not painless.
His poems were brilliant if not manic and restless. There was a graceful, elegant quality to his words, even as he spits them out, rapid-fire. He spoke truths of a life that none of my students had witnessed before. One of his poems pointed to the grace of an eagle, only to be surprised by the graceful eagle’s mistake of trying to take on more than it should have. The poem is here, but a short word of warning: it has some inappropriate language.
What he speaks of is wings. What he lives is a life that has been offered grace, for which he is grateful.
“Style is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward” – Robert Frost.
I’ve always loved Frost’s poetry and the image of circles like this brings me back to his imagery.
There’s a line in a poem by Taylor Mali (I think the poem is “Train of Thought”) wherein the speaker ponders whether people who think in “trains of thought” aren’t lacking creativity. That people should be thinking in “dirigibles” and zeppelins. They can go anywhere, back, forth, up, down, where train of thought thinkers can only move forward or back at a relatively slow pace.
Now that the school year is finally over, I’m happy to say that my line of thinking is less line-like than ever.
On the other hand, I seem to be gleefully moving toward summer and I’d like that line to be as short as possible.
Huh? Actually, I should make note of the fact that the title, above, comes from one of my favorite novels, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. I haven’t read it lately, but this quotation always struck me as poetic. At the end of anything, a relationship, a love, a career, nostalgia clouds our minds and makes them seem better than what they are. The reason this thing is dissolving is that it is no longer worth having, yet we look back on it with fondness. Nostalgia is a trickster.
In a related note, Jonathan Foer’s book Everything is Illuminated was named for this quotation from Kundera. If you want two books to read that will challenge your mind, in totally different ways mind you, check out these two books.