Friday, October 13, 2006

Poetry Friday

When I was in ninth grade, a freshman in high school, I had an awakening. See, when I was a child, I read a lot. Kind of obsessively, really. When my mom used to take me to the library, I seem to remember that we had a rule that I could only check out a certain number of books at a time, because otherwise I was liable to check out dozens of books. And I still remember looking at the shelves in the children's section, and being really frustrated that there were no more books I hadn't read. If all else failed, I would go over to the handy World Book Encyclopedia my parents had bought, choose a volume, and sit down with a bowl of cereal and start reading.

But at some point in middle school, I stopped reading quite so much. Actually, maybe that's not true. But in craziness of being thirteen years old, reading stopped being such a fundamental part of my identity. I was making half-hearted attempts at being popular, I was learning to play the guitar, I was growing my hair long. Reading didn't overwhelm my life the way it used to.

In high school, tossed and turned by new people and new experiences, I felt a little bit of an identity crisis. And I soon realized that part of my problem was that I had fallen behind in my reading. So I went to the school library, and started looking for new stuff. I think the first book I picked up was Walden Pond, but soon I turned, like every other teenager in the world, to the Beats. Howl came first, I remember reading it aloud to myself in a corner of the library. Then On the Road and Dharma Bums, and the Viking Portable Beat Reader. Never really got into Burroughs for some reason.

So anyways, this is all to introduce the poem for this Poetry Friday. After reading Dharma Bums, I wanted to be Gary Snyder like nobody's business. I still have the copy of Turtle Island I bought in ninth grade, and this was my favorite poem from it. Blogger isn't letting me reproduce the spacing correctly unfortunately, but this'll do.


Snowmelt pond warm granite
we make camp,
no thought of find more.
and nap
and leave our minds to the wind.

on the bedrock, gently tilting,
sky and stone,

teach me to be tender.

the touch that nearly misses--
brush of glances--
tiny steps--
that finally cover worlds
of hard terrain.
cloud wisps and mists
gathered into slate blue
bolts of summer rain.

tea together in the purple starry eve;
new moon soon to set,
why does it take so
long to learn to
we laugh
and grieve.

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