Monday, September 12, 2011


Artist Frederic Church's rendition of a sunset in my home county, painted in 1847

Over the past few months the area I live in has experienced a tornado, a hurricane, two bouts of flooding, a triple murder, and now West Nile Virus. I know this earthly life's a battle, but great jeesum crow! We've also had some gorgeous summer days, saw neighbors helping neighbors during a crisis, and helped celebrate the 250th anniversary of the town next door. I wrote this poem a couple of years ago when opposing incidences seemed overwhelming. Seems like a good time to trot it back out.


the same day an airplane dashed itself
to bits on the side of a mountain, killing seven people
a gentle rain fell on the garden,
pattering on the broad leaves of the squash
and watering the thirsty beets;

and while an earthquake
shook a south sea island in its heavy fist
scattering lives like wooden blocks
the sun came out,
hanging rainbows in water droplets
that strung themselves along the fence
like Christmas lights?

Listening to the news
you couldn’t help but realize the world
was a frightening place to be
except right here where an ordinary lily
opened its vibrant yellow throat.


Barbara said...

The juxtaposition of good and bad in the course of the same day makes one wonder whether happenings are random or according to some master plan.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. for as much destruction and circumstance there is always as much beauty...really nice write...and ugh on all going on in your town...

Charissa Steyn said... well said. Often wish there was a channel for all good news- wouldn't that be amazing?!

June said...

Your poem moves me. It expresses so well the astonishment I feel in the aftermath of our disastrous season.

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice, we need to take the good with the bad, but really enjoy our lives especially when things are so nice.

JeannetteLS said...

Life. Your poem reminded me of what was told to me when I was very, very young--THANK GOODNESS. Without the ugliness and pain we could not fully experience exquisite joy. So you might as well learn to weather the awful and treasure the rest. Thanks, Mom.

(Wouldn't it be great if we COULD, though?)

Just a beautiful poem.

Friko said...

This is one of those poems which will fit and comfort at any time. Disaster and small happinesses are always side by side.
That's life.

goatman said...

So life goes on . . . We just need to be reminded sometimes.
The painting of your country_side years ago is somehow comforting.
(I wonder if you can find the place where the artist stood?)

Pauline said...

barbara - I vote random but one never ever knows for sure...

Brian M - I am always aware of the pull of opposites -

Charissa - thanks for stopping by to visit. If all the news was good, who'd believe? Some people seem to thrive on bad news :(

June, thanks. I'm feeling pretty astonished myself!

OOTP - I so agree!

Jeannette - I wonder if there is a plane of existence that doesn't require the ugly to see the beautiful?

I agree Friko - that's this life, anyhow!

Gpatman, I'm not sure but I think it's not my hometown but one further north in the Berkshires. Beautiful, isn't it?

Judith said...

A wonderful wonderful poem, Pauline.
So graceful and so profound all at once (hmmm, a few opposites, of a sort).

I do wonder about the painting: are you sure it's not Hampshire County? Somewhere around the Oxbow? I'm not familiar with it though ---

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem and it so aptly, sadly, amazingly describes any given day on this earth.

Kerry said...

This is a beautiful poem, and also the reason that sometimes I avoid the news.

Pauline said...

J - thanks :) The painting is titled July Sunset, Berkshire County -

It does, Barbara - written on an ordinary day here but extraordinary elsewhere.

Kerry - sometimes the news intrudes. The day I wrote the poem there was a tsunami in Samoa and a plane crash in the next town. Meanwhile I was looking at the lilies blooming in the side garden. Any given day has its tragedies and its simple beauties.

Marion said...

A beautiful poem...brought tears to my eyes. So much disaster and then the thankful for the beauty! xx

JeannetteLS said...

I hope there is such a place. Or perhaps we can SEE the beautiful anyway, just as a child does.

Perhaps recognizing the depth of appreciation because of the pain has always been simply a way to cope with the ugly and horrible--a way we can make something good out of it. Children don't have to--they can revel in the new in innocence.

So the best WE can do is see with the eyes of the child, and feel with the heart of people who have had to see what was ugly and treasure it even more. Does that make one tiny bit of sense?

Working with small kids helps, I think. It helps a lot.

Pauline said...

Me, too Marion. Me, too.

Jeannette - ours is a world of opposites, of relativity. We can't have the good without the bad, though the thought of a place where we could is appealing.