In a week that did not at all turn out as I hoped or even in my wildest dreams imagined this poem from last Friday has been my lifeline.
At some point, Elizabeth Bishop renamed the poem… but I found her original name, Early Sorrow, to be so profound for me. But, the new name… Sestina… has stuck in my head and the words of the poem keep echoing there as well. It is a good time to plant tears… not very bright or cheery for a Monday but every day can’t be all sunshine and rainbows…
Sestina by Elizabeth Bishop:
September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.
She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,
It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac
on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.
It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.
But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.
Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.
Elizabeth Bishop ©
I learned last week that my years-estranged sister has been evicted (yet again) and has spiraled down to the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the mental health ocean. There are volumes to this story that I am just not ready to share and my Monday is going to be full of making calls, asking lots of questions and I am hopeful that I will find an answer or two. I am sorry, but I have closed comments for this post… I hope you all understand.
See you all back here on Wednesday.