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Friday, April 22, 2016

Picking poems for Earth Day

For Earth Day, I wanted to select a poem from my book Living in the Nature Poem published by Hiraeth Press to celebrate the occasion and also speak for year-round concerns, but that just didn’t happen! It took at least that whole book to speak and celebrate, but, eventually, I picked four poems with four perspectives, reminding me somewhat of the four corners of our round Earth.

As a Christian who believes in one Creator and Creative God, Who can do anything in any amount of time yet likes to include Creation in Creating, this poem honors that perspective.

Having the First Word

Into first being God uttered water,
broke open the night,
spilled light and water everywhere.

The earth took God’s Word
to heart,
pumping great cardiovascular
veins of rivers, oceans,

Air performed lively aerations,
breathing into plants,
boosting inhalation, waiting
to lift us, buoyed, out of the water –
wailing and gasping for breath.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2012

In addition to including the poems above and below in Living in the Nature Poem, the next lines originally appeared in the April, 2012 issue of vox poetica.

The Recipe

I am made of stars, sand, rain.
My fingers flicker
my feet fins,
my head
an acorn.

If stars implode,
a black hole sucks me.
If rains wash sand,
I am moved.

This earth,
this universe
does not shelter me
a building but like
skin, bones, blood,
a single cell.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2012

The above two poems come from theological and biological perspectives intended to show our oneness with one another and nature, whereas the following poem talks about the physical concerns of our present-day society and the neighborhood where I lived at the time this true incident occurred.

Also from Living in the Nature Poem, the piece first appeared in the November 2010 issue of Creekwalker – a lovely online journal that, unfortunately, ceased publication.

Pause in a Hard Week, Working

Even the early oranges were not in, nor
ripe blackberries in their thorny vines.

The loquat had dropped its oval fruit,
and, already, the wild plums’ white
blooms had gone.

The tomatoes green, the squash
in yellow blossoms, and beans
still the dream of green leaves

as the small black bear wandered in
and up an oak without one drop
of water nearby or one brown acorn....

To the hope of wild plums, he clung.

On the other side from where I stood
succumbing to his charming presence,
our neighbors animated their alarms,
and dogs barked,
and a helicopter
from television news
circled and circled
a noise of war

as I ducked beneath a shelter of still
leaves and whispered,
please wait until the dark.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2010 & 2012

So, what do we do with these perspectives and the concerns we have about situations that threaten our environment – and our lives? That’s the fretful view of a tragedy in the true sense of the word since that refers to something that started out beautifully, but ended badly.

Conversely, a genuine “comedy” in literature and life has nothing to do with the jollies of a sit-com or stand-up comedian but, literarily refers to something that’s awful yet has a happy-ending or upbeat purpose in the overall scheme of things. And so, I’ll end with:

The Marvelous Comedy

Something’s wrong with me.
I cannot seem to stop myself
from seeing something good.
Everywhere you look – poverty,
despair, wars, and the stealth
of a cat burglar, stalking floods
of saltwater pearls. Can you see
how to free me from this wealth
of wonder? Even if I should
be aware of the jail-striped bee
blundering around me or the
arsonist ant’s fire-lit breath,
my thoughts drip not with death
but honey, and I cannot help
but see the choreographed crawl
of the ant or sprawling pattern of
bees in the beautiful buzz.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2012

Living in the Nature Poem, paperback

Living in the Nature Poem, e-book

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