Thursday, October 19, 2006

Seventh at 8:00 - poetic observations

From a series of poems called "Seventh at 8:00"
Invisible oriental incense surrounds a new aluminum kiosk,
a miasma of Dehli reds, Jodpur pinks,
temple bronze, Himalayan mauves.
The Indian news seller purifies and blesses
his tiny domain to gain his share
of the dream of American prosperity
invoking daily the hopes
that brought him far from home.
I pass by and rarely stop, rarely buy
but breathe the complex scent
and feel my day is blessed
by his belief and hope.
My cynicisms curl and crumble
like the ash of his incense sticks.

Mornings when I go to work, I try to arrive around 8:00. I surface from the subway station at 23rd street and 7th Avenue and walk two blocks south to my job on 21st Street. Over the past two years I've written a series of poems about the people I pass regularly in that short two block walk ... many more than one might expect. This was the first poem of the series.

The picture above was from the street fair already mentioned. Again it is Indian immigrants trying to earn a living in this country -- beautiful sheer panels for windows, displayed as if enclosing a secret room, billowing in the fall breeze. They were inexpensive and beautiful, some embroidered

Several years ago when I went to India, I was afraid ... afraid I would find the poverty unbearably painful. Yes, I saw poverty. But every day I saw something so beautiful that I began writing a poem each night instead of [or along with] keeping a diary. The beauty and grace of India was overwhelming. I began writing afer I saw the Taj Mahal at dawn. And if that isn't a poetic sight nothing is! Nothing had the same sort of sublimity but everyday something was equally touching, equally unforgettable. The trip was so intensely moving and beautiful that whenever I get a whiff of the newseller's incense, or see the curtains dancing above the gray pavement of upper Broadway, the wonderful collection of images rush into my memory. I am so happy I have seen these, and so many other, beautiful things
The picture below has nothing to do with India; it is a flower I do not know the name of that was growing wild in marshes of Alaska; it's lovely and I feel like sharing it because we think flowers are bright or pastel, but this one is dark which makes it more exotic ... perhaps it attracts a certainly kind of bee which pollinates it. The diversity in the world, wherever we come upon it, is something to stop and pay attention to. How I wish I had Mary Oliver's skill to write a poem about each of these magical little moments of paying attention.

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