(Written Oct. ’15)
Yesterday morning I went for a run. As I huffed my way up hilly coastal road the view stopped me in my tracks: the spectral moon hanging weightless in the cerulean sky, which was painted with the soft coral streaks of the rising sun. From where I stood, the moon was framed by snowy branches sparsely decorated by yellow leaves. The moment filled me with a wave peaceful energy, followed by a tide of bittersweet longing. Something about the silvery gray of the moon, the autumnal color of the vegetation and the cool breeze stirred up a slight undercurrent of nostalgia.
Living in the land of eternal summer often feels quite strange to me, having grown up in a place whose story is beautifully punctuated by the four seasons. It’s October, and my subconscious and body seem to pine for familiar autumn mornings; padding out from sleep across the chilly dew crowned grass to watch the steam rise from the Westport river, cool winds shaking loose changing leaves, steam curling up from a cup of Earl Grey held close to my chest.
The word was certainly one of my first loves. As soon as I was old enough to read you could find a book in my hand. Not shortly after you could find me with a pen and paper jotting down my own stories and thoughts.
Thus, you’ll always find a book of poems within reach in my home: bookmarked on the kitchen table, face down on the living room floor, waiting underneath my pillow… For me, finding a poem that resonates with an emotion I’ve been feeling is nothing short of a soul encounter. It’s a lightning bolt of connection with the world, an electric shock of perception.
My latest companion is Mary Oliver’s, Blue Horses. The first time (and each time since) reading “The Mangroves” from this collection I felt keenly that shock. It strikes me much in the same way the silver moon did yesterday morning…
by Mary Oliver
As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, “Listen,
we are trees too.” Okay, I’m trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don’t
they know it, can’t be done. “Are you
trying to fly or what?” I ask, and they
answer back, “We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.”
I’m not quite sure of my purpose for writing this post, other than sharing a moment and a feeling that meant something for me somehow. As time passes, eternal summer slowly feels less strange and I less foreign. The sweet fragrance of frangipani and ripe mango have replaced the perfume of salty sea spray and rain soaked earth. The jagged silhouette of palm fronds against the night sky has replaced cat tails reflecting on the river. Day by day this tropical land feels more familiar, it’s exotic landscape more comforting.
Admiring is easy, but affinity, that does take some time.