Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day

I've never really been one for poetry, yet here I am with two poems in one month. Imagine that. I suppose that I don't understand most poetry but every once in a while something will jump at me and clutch my heart, making all the sense in the world. It happens most often when the rest of life isn't making much sense-- the abstract becomes so very clear.

And isn't that what poetry is for? Poems and paintings and songs are there to fill the voids that cannot be thought through with common words and voices? Well, this is one of those poems. An abstraction that understands all of my misunderstandings.

I actually sent it to Annie a few months ago, because it reminded me of her spirit and her sentiment. The last few stanzas (stanzas?) get to me, so if nothing else, skip over the first part about the warbler and spend some time with the lying in bed portion of the poem. (But then, of course, you will want to circle back and read the warbler part because the laying in bed portion was so very perfect.)

I think I first heard this read on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, which if you don't already listen to, please start immediately. (You can, of course, get the podcast version if you don't listen to radio, so there are no excuses.)

So here you are, New York. Enjoy this poem and enjoy this sunny December day.

And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day
by Michael Blumenthal

Things are not as they seem: the innuendo of everything makes
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a

mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,

come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. Nothing
I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets

and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed

so easily. Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto

but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling.
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,

waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,

and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing.


Katie Henly said...

gorgeous. Merry Christmas, roomie.

David Henly said...

I hope you saw this one: