Friday, April 3, 2015
The voluptuous pear tree
I mentioned the word "voluptuous" with pear tree at poetry club the other night, and a woman about five years older than I, strangled a little on that word juxtaposed with pear tree. As if I had said "breast," or "nipple." She was thinking Jane Russell. I was thinking thick, white blooms that surprise me every spring. I have a pear tree in front of my house exploding whiteness and a sweet scent. Tom and I babble about the miracle of this tree as if we've never seen it before.
We do the same thing with a full moon. "Look at the full moon!" we say, awed, as if it doesn't happen every single month. How can we possibly deserve such ongoing beauty?
Mary Oliver, in the very center of her long poem, The Leaf and the Cloud, asks "Does the body have a soul?" The directness of the question knocked me off center (although the entire poem asks the question). She leans toward yes; the poem ends with alleluiahs.
Then I found this short poem in Oliver's later book, Blue Horses:
THE SOUL AT LAST
The Lord's terrifying kindness has come to me.
It was only a small silvery thing--say a piece
of silver cloth, or a thousand spider webs
woven together, or a small handful of aspen
leaves, with their silver backs shimmering.
And it came leaping out of the closed coffin;
it flew into the air, it danced snappingly
around the church rafters, it vanished through
I spoke there, briefly, of the loved one gone. I
gazed at the people in the pews, some of them
weeping. I knew I must, someday, write this down.
* * *
Posted by Louise Plummer at 1:40 PM