Friday, June 24, 2011

What I Listened to on My Walk

I brought my I-pod with me this morning on my walk, on the East Mountain route. It was the only way I could get myself out the door today. It was a messy battle between Determined Laura and Grumpy Laura.

Heed my advice: Get out the door as fast as possible. Do not wait. Do not ponder your wardrobe. Do not stand in front of your stove and enter into a decision-making process about espresso? or no espresso?

I came to my senses (divine intervention?), grabbed the I-pod, and got the hell out of there. I had my ear buds in for just a few minutes, trying to figure out what kind of music I was in the mood for.

The only answer I could come up with was: espresso.

Thankfully, I kept hearing birds and couldn't stand the separation between me and the place I was walking through, so I took out the headphones and put the whole thing away.

Before long, tho, my own internal i-pod, was playing a poem (how I wish it were my own), in my head, one I've been listening to over and over in my car on the way to and from work (thanks to the invaluable anthology CDs from The Academy of American Poets).

"Matins" (#7) by Louise Gluck. I've read it before, years ago The Wild Iris. But it never struck me. In fact that book bored me to death at the time. But I'm looking at it again, and it's striking me.

A lot of things are striking me. And I'm telling you, it's because of these walks. Well, maybe it's because I'm teaching writing again and because of the walks and, maybe in this particular case, because I'm 39 not 22.

Something new is afoot, that is for sure (and this despite a recent slew of rejections from magazines).

I suggest, if you can, to read this out loud, and slowly. Matins, if you don't know, are morning prayers. And this is the last, I believe, in the series (each poem titled the same, "Matins").

Matins (#7)

Not the sun merely but the earth
itself shines, white fire
leaping from the showy mountains
and the flat road
shimmering in early morning: is this
for us only, to induce
response, or are you
stirred also, helpless
to control yourself
in earth's presence--I am ashamed
at what I thought you were,
distant from us, regarding us
as an experiment: it is
a bitter thing to be
the disposable animal,
a bitter thing. Dear friend,
dear trembling partner, what
surprises you most in what you feel,
earth's radiance or your own delight?
For me, always
the delight is the surprise.


For me, too.

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