It is that time of year when I feel renewed (or feel that I should feel renewed!). I always liked this time of year and going back to school; I always liked the opportunity to learn something new. It’s little wonder, then, that when autumn comes and I watch as my daughter prepares for her new routine, I begin to prepare for mine.
After the productive June I experienced while on my extended retreat, I succumbed to “real life” once I came home, and have felt a bit of a let down because of it. The disciplines I had established changed, to say the least, although, thankfully, they did not disappear completely. I have still managed a pretty good schedule with exercise and writing (and reading), but it has been more haphazard here than it was down there. I have many more obligations here than at my June getaway … naturally, the demands and responsibilities here at home are what make going there a “retreat.”
So, here we are on the first day of September. The temperature is in the 70’s, I am wearing a new-ish shirt and a favorite pair of jeans. My “To Do” list has no spelling errors on it (it really is the little things). Also today, I began the draft of a poem (inspired by the story about Gregg Allman shooting himself in the foot, with the help of brother Duane, to avoid the draft), and I revised a couple of other poems. This activity really is insignificant and unremarkable; after all, it’s not as if I completely stopped writing when I got back from the coast … Insignificant and unremarkable, except that it feels a little like the first day of school to me. I think that’s a good sign.
Here is one of the poems I revised today. It comes from a full-length manuscript that I put together two summers ago (during my June retreat). I hope you enjoy it; as always, thanks for reading.
I must rescue the moth.
My father, were he here, might call it
A good name, suggesting work.
And work it does, mapping
my kitchen window
with muted tapping
like gloved fingers drumming.
Alight, away, alight, away
I hear it. It hears
some monstrous clanging
like a church bell
signaling the time has come
not just for prayer
but for desperate prayer.
Its heaven, or at least home
is out there beyond the glass.
One blade of grass
one fading leaf
one other of its kind –
whatever it is
desired by this miller
The moth manages the hardness
of the pane over and over
again, beating a rhythm
as fast as a hummingbird’s heart.
Some temptation of light
brought it inside.
What if it isn’t as the saying goes?
What if false light
just confuses them? It does not
behave like one drawn to something here.
A glass, a jar. I need to catch it
so I can free it.
Not with my hands. I don’t want to feel it.
I remember the one I caught as a child.
I only wanted to touch it. For a moment. Less.
I was small, not strong
and barely had it, felt it flutter
just before it turned to gray dust
that fell between my tiny fingers.
Suzanne Baldwin Leitner