Poesy …

IMG_1515 (2)In my Poet’s Dictionary (by William Packard), poetry is defined simply as, “The rhythmic creation of beauty in words.”  Naturally, there is more to say, so the entry goes on for a full two pages, and includes some definitions that poets, like Wordsworth and Dickinson among others, have offered throughout history.

I find poetry easier to experience than to define.

This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to the mountains.  Whenever I can do so, I like to take detours … the more lonesome the detour, the better.  One of my favorites on this particular trip takes me off an annoyingly busy mountain highway and onto a two-lane, sometimes one-lane, sometimes partially unpaved road.  It is full of hairpin curves and mostly empty of other travelers.  I like the curves not only because they force me to slow way down, but also because it seems to me that everywhere I go lately, curves in the road are being made straight (pick your own metaphorical application).

I like slowing way down because it is then that I can really see where I am.  When I am in the mountains and I slow way down, it is as if I am waiting for the earth to speak to me.  Literally.  I listen for words.

On this recent drive, I noticed that the trees, even though mostly bare, were like sentries, lending an air of secrecy and of vigilance, like they were protecting something unseen, but felt; something which both prompted a yearning and set off an alarm in me.  I experience these feelings frequently when I go to the higher elevations, though they are not always prompted by the same sights.  This day, I wanted to park my car and walk the undulations of “hill and holler” so badly that even now, I am surprised I resisted.

And what if the mountainous earth – which seemed to know I was there, which seemed to stare back at me, which seemed to both flirt with me and hide from me all at once – what if it had spoken? I understand my own fear.  Perhaps other people have similar fears about prayer, or even their own silence.

My paternal grandparents grew up in the mountains, and so they knew them.  I simply know of them. When I compare my life’s experiences to theirs, what I know seems meager indeed.  I attended Appalachian State University, so I went to school in the mountains, but they learned life in the mountains.  Still, I feel a kinship, an awareness, a connection with their life stories, beyond what my own experiences would seem to support rationally.

When I read Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden recently, I cried because I could hear his characters; I could hear exactly how they intoned as they spoke to one another.  I could hear their silences.  I knew them  … and yet, I didn’t know them.  I don’t know them any more than I really know those mountains that fill me with longing and foreboding.

As I made that drive this past week, I wished for a way to experience it over and over all at once, like replaying your favorite track on a CD.  I wanted to find an explanation for my yearning and my dread, but now I see that finding an answer would be like breaking open a kaleidoscope.

Is what I am attempting to describe here mystery or poetry?

I say, “Yes.”

3 thoughts on “Poesy …

  1. Ann

    mmmm…yes. This is a good place to be, I think, a place where you are connected with the vibrations of your soul. A lovely piece of writing!

  2. margaret

    I think I have the right lady…you and I were the best of friends many years ago at nc governor’s school. often think of you. email me if you get this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s