Have I written before about poetry in the mornings? Sometime last year I realized that all the news and feeds in the mornings was making me anxious. The endlessness of it all, the constantly refreshing twitter streams and feeds made me feel like I was already behind. I would stay in bed reading articles and tweets, unconsciously trying to catch up, when what I really wanted to do was get up and write. I know you can’t catch up with a river. It’s always flowing — all you can do is appreciate the part that happens to be where you are in the present moment.
My other problem was that most of that stuff was garbage: entertaining, attention-grabbing, but fluffy. So starting my day with it was like having sugar pops for breakfast. Lots of nervous energy and no substance. Garbage in, garbage out, they say, and the mind is no different. My solution was poetry. I keep a book on my bedside table and most mornings read a few poems before getting out of bed. Poetry is the anti-Twitter. It is slow, quiet, and deep. If Twitter is a river, poetry is a secluded swimming hole, yours only and exactly when you want it.
Over the past several months, I’ve had the great pleasure of rediscovering ee cummings and his joyous fracturing of language. I’ve been reading the wonderful Richard Kennedy-edited collection. Kennedy, as ee’s biographer, puts the poems in context of his life, which was deeply engaged with people, nature, and the vibrancy of art. As a child, ee grew up going with his family to a place they called Joy Farm (this thrilled me — I want to go!), and he continued to go into adulthood for the spring and summer months. Many of his poems share sensitive observations of natural phenomena and seasons, the love of which was clearly cultivated there.
I’ve been wanting to share this poem for awhile. I love how the colors unfold, pulled across the page in loose syllables like wispy clouds. I love how the breaks in the words force you to slow down to make sense of it, like the sky does. I have been dazzled to my toes by a sky like this; just reading the words, I can be there in my mind. It is nothing too profound — it is not the meaning of life in verse — but when I read it, I take the colors into my day and everything looks different.
Book: Selected Poems, by ee cummings, edited by Richard S. Kennedy