Colorado Spring, brought to you by Sharon

Ten years ago I taped my first poem (Mark Strand’s “The Coming of Light”) to a yellow post in a parking lot. My heart was racing as if I had done something transgressive. But I was also happy, pleased as punch, giddy. Who would find the poem? What would they think? Would the poem help them, heal them, lighten their load, brighten their day, irritate, unnerve or challenge them? Three hundred some poems later, those questions and that giddiness are still there every time I leave a poem for someone to find.

 

This month I’m delighted to share that experience with you, dear readers. Responses are coming in to my Ten Year Collaboration Project (yes, the official name keeps changing, gotta figure that one out).  I’ll post readers’ contributions every other day till I run out.

 

NOTE: send your pictures (one close-up, one context) and commentary (if you want) to thepoemelf@gmail.com. I’d love to get more than I can post in one month!

 

Here we go.

 

We begin with Sharon from Greeley, Colorado. I love her selections—Mary Oliver, Anne Porter, both spiritual wise women and great, great poets. Years ago I copied the Anne Porter poem/prayer on cardstock and sent to my kids. “A Short Testament” is absolutely the perfect poem for this time of quarantine.

 

I’m wasn’t familiar with Louis Simpson and I’m very glad to be introduced. (FYI, Simpson was b.1923, d. 2012.)

 

Sharon writes at the end of her post, “For me, poetry is kindness.” I love that. Thank you, Sharon, for your wonderful choices and commentary. (What follows is direct from Sharon)

 

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I took the photos in various areas around Glenmere Lake in Greeley, Colorado. (Staying within COVID19 mandatory parameters!!)

 

I chose the Mary Oliver poem to encourage whoever found it, to write. Across the street on the west side of the lake is someone’s personal garden which made for a natural venue.

 

 

“A Short Testament” I posted on a bench overlooking the lake. I thought it represented how many of us feel under mandatory quarantine—we have time to reflect on our lives and the poem offers language to heal.

 

A Short Testament

by Anne Porter

 

Whatever harm I may have done

In all my life in all your wide creation

If I cannot repair it

I beg you to repair it,

 

And then there are all the wounded

The poor the deaf the lonely and the old

Whom I have roughly dismissed

As if I were not one of them.

Where I have wronged them by it

And cannot make amends

I ask you

To comfort them to overflowing,

 

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,

Or lives of strangers far or near

That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,

And if I cannot find them

Or have no way to serve them,

 

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

 

When winter is over

And all your unimaginable promises

Burst into song on death’s bare branches.

 

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“As Birds are Fitted to the Bough” I posted on the trunk of just-beginning-to-blossom crabapple tree boughs. It was a windy spring day when I secured it behind loose bark. The poem spoke to me during quarantine as I worked, rewriting on some personal poems.

 

As Birds Are Fitted to the Boughs

by Louis Simpson

 

As birds are fitted to the boughs

That blossom on the tree

And whisper when the south wind blows—

So was my love to me.

 

And still she blossoms in my mind

And whispers softly, though

The clouds are fitted to the wind,

The wind is to the snow.

 

 

A friend who found out I was doing this for your site said “I wish I was lucky enough to be walking around the lake and find these.” People have shown such kindness around the lake during the quarantine—they’ve put out tables of dog biscuits for furry friends, water for walkers, masks for the letter carriers, they’ve made sidewalk chalk inspirations of visual and word art. Now poetry has been added to the mix! I figure since the quarantine is mandatory for us, it’s what we do with it that really matters. For me, poetry is kindness. I want the world to know and feel the healing effects of words/language.

 

The poem I didn’t yet find a venue for is called “Hoses” by George Bilgere. Again, reflective of life in simpler times. Will we ever again hear the peels of childish laughter ring out as kids run through sprinklers? When will that laughter return? And in the meantime, what’s going on in the lives of children and adults under stay at home orders?

 

 

Hoses

by George Bilgere

 

I love the hoses of summer

hanging in their green coils

from the sides of houses,

or slithering through lawns

on their way to the cool

meditations of sprinklers.

 

I think of my father, scotch

in one hand, the dripping hose

in the other, probing the dusk

with water, the world

around him falling apart,

marriage crumbling, booze

running the show.

Still, he liked to walk out

after dinner and water the lawn,

fiddling with the nozzle,

misting this, showering that.

 

Sometimes, in the hot twilight,

my sisters and I would run

in our swimsuits through the yard

while he followed us

with a cold beam of water.

 

And once, when my mother

came out to watch, he turned

the hose on her, the two of them

laughing in a way we’d never heard,

a laughter that must have brought them

back to the beginning.

 

Thanks for your “assignment.” It offered me an opportunity to be creative and to smile as I went about my task.

 

Sharon

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. thesongsmymothertaughtme

    The choice of poems is lovely, I enjoyed them all, but especially Mary Oliver’s. She always manages to get the words just right. Thanks. I am yet to post my poems somewhere, but I will.

    Yen

    ________________________________

  2. Tom McGrath

    Sharon, What a collection of gems you’ve brought to us. You’ve succeeded in your desire to let people “know and feel the healing effects of words/language.” “Hoses,” especially brought back such sweet memories. I was back on Meade Avenue playing running bases while Chet Jablonski, Wally Filipowicz, Joe Nemec, and other neighborhood dads, sprayed their lawns and thought their evening thoughts. Thank you.

  3. mayetsworld

    This is such a cool idea. I never once considered leaving a poem for some stranger to find – beats graffiti any day(I’m not a vandal by the way). I may just try this out as soon as lockdown is over. Lovely piece, well done. Keep up the good work and best of luck with your future posts ✌ I’m also an aspiring poet. I’ve been writing for a long time but only recently began writing poems. Check out my latest post, I’d appreciate your thoughts (including criticism) https://mayet8.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/lone-wolf/

      1. mayetsworld

        Thank you so much 🙏🙂 I rarely come across other lawyers in my field that take to creative writing. Legal opinions, drafting of court processes, etc. gets tiresome. Creative writing has been an awesome tool for getting my mind off my work, which tends to be more serious & boring. I love what I do but at the end of the day, work is work. Thanks for taking the time read my work

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