Visiting Long Island reminds me of how much I love the water. And spring. And children – all children but specifically my children and now my grandchildren. Water, spring and children… they all give me hope.
The water moves me forward, but the numerous salt-box houses from the early 1700s, the studied historical preservation and the shipbuilding of by-gone days heightens my appreciation for the past.
When I’m on Long Island, I feel a continuity: the future and the past converge… I am carried mid-stream in the current.
Every flowering tree and shrub is in full bloom. The community garden is humming with freshly turned soil. The earth is fecund – newly pregnant with expectation. My daughter carefully plants seeds and the grandchildren thrill to the first of the bush peas. It is a “parenting moment.”
I recently read a Jane Kenyon poem “Thinking of Madame Bovary” from her collection Otherwise: New & Selected Poems. The second stanza reads: I saw a yellow crocus bud had pierced / a dead oak leaf, then opened wide. How strong / its appetite for the luxury of the sun!
Several images come to mind. One goes back to my riding the 15 bus past the Tower of London. On this particular day, at this particular moment, the sun was unexpectedly shining. As the bus approached the stop opposite the Tower, I noticed that no one standing in line was looking for the bus; rather, every single person stood with his back to the on-coming bus. Heads thrown back, they soaked up the sun. Their hands weren’t clasped, but their stance was worshipful.
The second image that I carry with me is of a businessman sitting on a stone wall outside the National Gallery during the lunch hour. He had taken off his undershirt, his dress shirt, and his suit coat. His briefcase lay on top of his discarded clothes. When clothed, he must have cut quite the professional figure. As it was, his pasty white, fatty flesh was not attractive. He didn’t care. Head back and face raised, he drank in every ounce of sun that came his way. The sun was his two martini lunch.
Speaking of Jane Kenyon and her collection titled Otherwise, her poem “A Prayer of Thanks” is an excellent trigger. The poem begins: I got out of bed / on two strong legs. / It might have been / Otherwise…
Using Kenyon’s poem as a template, write your own list poem. List your blessings and close each blessing with “It might have been otherwise.”