Friday, November 23, 2012

Poetry Friday: Thankful for Words



Happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone! Today, I am thankful for my Friday morning yoga class. That combination of movement and stillness sounds like the perfect thing after the rush of preparing a meal (I’m sous chef to my husband) and a lot of couch-time watching football.

Yesterday, my son’s high school participated in the 93rd annual Turkey Bowl. It’s a famous Baltimore-region high school football rivalry. Reportedly, 15,000 fans showed up at Ravens football stadium to watch the game. My teen is in the marching band. It was so much fun to see them perform their halftime show on my favorite football team’s field.
My teen is in there somewhere!
Giving thanks for my favorite team, #1 in their division.
I was driving to pick up my son and some band-mates after the game, and heard the radio program “GivingThanks.” The show included a conversation with the poet Dana Gioia. He headed the NEA under president Bush2. 

(I once heard two poets arguing about how to pronounce Gioia's name. It's Joy-a.)

Gioia read two poems, the one below and “Prayer at Winter Solstice.” The images in this poem struck me, though I’m still thinking about why it fits the theme of “Thanksgiving.”

Words
By Dana Gioia

The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

And one word transforms it into something less or other--
illicit, chaste, perfunctory, conjugal, covert.
Even calling it a kiss betrays the fluster of hands
glancing the skin or gripping a shoulder, the slow
arching of neck or knee, the silent touching of tongues.

Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper--
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.

Read the rest of the poem at the Academy of American Poets.

If you have time today, after packing up all your leftovers, I recommend listening to the full radio broadcast of Giving Thanks here. And a review of Gioia’s latest book, Pity the Beautiful, is at the Weekly Standard.


Another thing I am thankful for is having time with my children this weekend. No school. No games. No competitions. Just time to get caught up and be together. 

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting today's Poetry Friday Roundup. Click through to find more poetry posts.
 

10 comments:

Liz Steinglass said...

Such lovely words.

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks for introducing me to this poem. I love this:

To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper--/metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa/carved as arrowheads. To name is to know and remember.

Enjoy your unscheduled weekend!

jama said...

Such an exquisite poem, Laura! Wow!

Enjoy your weekend with your family :).

Author Amok said...

I agree, Liz. It was an unexpected gift on Thanksgiving to hear this interview and Gioia reading the poem.

Diane, I'm glad you like it. The opening lines describing the leaves are what strikes me today, when only a few leaves remain on our trees. An unscheduled weekend is just what we need!

Tabatha said...

Thanks, Laura! This is a Gioia poem that I hadn't read yet. I'm saving it in my e-poetry journal.

Ruth said...

"Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot name them." So true! Thank you for this gift of a poem!

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I am a lady who is simply in love with wordswordswords - often, I think that they have a life of their own - living sentient creatures, these words - giving birth to parallel universes. I am so glad to note that you also do yoga! I do sivananda yoga on saturdays, and I am also thankful for that energizing body ache and quiet and stillness that those 90 minutes bring. :)

Mary Lee said...

Love this. (I'm not sure what Tabatha's e-poetry journal is like, but this one is saved in my file of poem links. Maybe that's an e-poetry journal?)

Learning the names of the plants in our "land lab" is one of my main goals for Environmental Club. I want the kids to feel that joy of naming, knowing, and remembering.

laurasalas said...

Beautiful poem--thank you, Laura!

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Oh my. This poem is stunning. Thank you for the gift.