A Poet’s Work

A Poets Work

When words fail, that’s when the poet goes to work.

Describe a scene. Relate a feeling. Evoke a mood. Any passable writer, any literate person, really, can paint those experiential portraits with some degree of success. We do it every day. So much talking. So much describing. It never stops. It began before we emerged and will continue long after we’re departed. Relating that fact as well as it can be said:

“To the as-yet unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: Watch out for life.

I have caught life. I have come down with life. I was a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness, and then a little peephole opened quite suddenly. Light and sound poured in. Voices began to describe me and my surroundings. Nothing they said could be appealed. They said I was a boy named Rudolph Waltz, and that was that. They said the year was 1932, and that was that. They said I was in Midland City, Ohio, and that was that.

They never shut up. Year after year they piled detail upon detail. They do it still. You know what they say now? They say the year is 1982, and that I am fifty years old.

Blah blah blah.”  ~ kurt vonnegut (from deadeye dick)

But, when the moment begins to cross over into the sublime,
When the never resting humming bird, with its 250 breaths per minute, its 1260 heart beats per minute, its 70 wing flaps per second, pauses a moment to look you dead in the eye – and stays until you surrender the idea of happenstance,
When the beach grass dances ever so gently with the faintest kiss of breeze,
When the sunlight refracts on the sea, breaking into millions of sparkling, dancing diamonds daring you to try to look away

When the chatter of the work-a-day mind subsides because you are listening instead to the symphony of birdsong, shore-song, and faint, distant, distant murmur of commerce

When your heart begins to expand into nature’s unstill stillness,

When every feeling turns from feeling into knowing, knowing you are on the brink of this holy moment,
Knowing you are in the midst, on the brink, and then in the midst again of this holy moment.

When words begin to fail, the poet begins to work.

© Leisa LaDell Ashbaugh 2017


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