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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nothing Like Us Ever Was

I went for a bike ride tonight. The weather was perfect. The bike trail and sides of the road were covered in yellow maple leaves that were not "crisp" enough to make much sound. I began reciting in my head Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
................Robert Frost

I have a strange memory. That poem (if I'm not mistaken) was at the bottom of the left column on the left page of the textbook I taught from for many years. I have not seen that book for over a decade, but I tend to remember where things are on pages. Do you do that? What does that mean?

So I was riding my bike through fallen leaves quoting one of my favorite poets to myself and remembering the joy of teaching poetry for about seventeen years. I went to a dock where I like to "think" (no I do not sing "Sittin' at the Dock of the Bay" when I go there). From there I watched the sun set and then rode home in the twilight. Frost's poem made me think of another poem I studied each year with my students in the 80's and 90's.

Maybe it was the fallen leaves whispering under my tires; maybe it was the sunset; maybe it was the knowledge that I'd be watching election results when I got home... I'm not sure why, but Sandburg's "Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind" kept warbling in my mind.

Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
by Carl Sandburg

“The past is a bucket of ashes.”

THE WOMAN named To-morrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,”
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.

The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

On a lighter note: I found my car keys tonight in a kitchen drawer with pot holders (where someone else not me put them a week ago).
Life's good!


Blogger Nancy said...

Yes, I do that... so why do we do that! Two weird brains thinking alike, watching what we expected to happen on election night, and yet having "hope", knowing God is in charge.

4/11/08 8:56 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Yep. It's not over yet, but in an hour I'm thinking Grant Park in Chicago will be going crazy. My daughter (in college there) is about a five minute walk from all the mayhem, but she's not going there.

Here's a surprise to me. I've been flipping back and forth between Fox and CNN and CNN is being far more responsible with it's projections. Fox has called a couple states for Obama that CNN is calling too close to call. Fox has also been putting up the wrong graphics quite often. Hmmmmm... They almost seem more eager to be done with it than the other networks. I could be wrong about that.

Like we've said, It's His story in the making, and I can rest in that. Still as this post suggests, I sense and end of something and a beginning of I don't know what.

I mentioned to SQ in the post below that I may tuck all these political posts somewhere in the archives (if I keep them at all). It's not "sour grapes" but once outcomes are known, I tend to not be one to "bash" the man in office. There's just no point in it.

Hey, what's the deal in NC? McCain is behind so far. I'm waiting on Florida, VA, or Ohio. Once one of them falls for sure, I'll be going to bed--not a bad idea. I'm tired of the speeches and don't care to hear the one in Chicago.
CNN just called Ohio for Obama. Good night. =)

4/11/08 9:35 PM  

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