like a life-giving sun

Posted by on June 30, 2010

You could become a great horseman

And help to free yourself and this world

Though only if you and prayer become sweet

It is a naive man who thinks we are not
Engaged in a fierce battle,

For I see and hear brave foot soldiers
All around me going mad,

Falling on the ground in excruciating pain.

You could become a victorious horseman

And carry your heart through this world
Like a life-giving sun

though only if you and God become sweet

* * *
I liked this Hafiz poem for this week. Today I feel pretty limited in what I can write though. We take turns with other families driving out to a nearby farm for dairy and meat, and today was my turn. It takes half a day to do this. I just got back, and I’m tired. It was nice to let Esme–who happened to be wearing a fairy costume made with tulle and sequins over her regular clothes–run around the farm and check out the baby chicks, some nimble-footed week-old goat babies (kids?), nursing calves, and a sand box. And later, indoors, she was not shy about brushing the hair of a doll in an upstairs bedroom. It was much better than letting her stay home and watch “Dora’s Super Silly Fiesta,” which was what she wanted to do when the prospect of driving to the farm was presented to her this morning.

I didn’t really feel like doing this job today, but on the drive, I was very thankful that at least it is summer because I’ve done this drive a number of times in the winter, and it is not fun. The landscape is flat, featureless, bleak, frozen, and incredibly cold because there is nothing to block the wind out there on county roads, away from people and buildings. In that situation, especially when I have a child or two in their car seats in the back, I always think about how easy it would be to die of exposure to the elements if not for a flimsy thing called a car, with a flimsy apparatus called a heater.

But today the clouds were puffy, the sun was yellow, the cornstalks looked as if they had been treated with a special varnish to lock in an optimal shade of glistening green. The matriarch of the farm took time to chat with me and show me all the new animal babies, the sight of which somehow evoked the same maternal feelings that my own human babies evoke in me. Somehow watching those baby goats run around on their little legs with clickety hoofs that look like little dress shoes reminded me of how delightful and entertaining it can be to watch my own fifteen month-old totter around our home on her little legs. I said this out loud to the farmer’s wife and she confirmed the phenomenon. She said that the baby animals always remind her of her own babies (she has six) and that she has been known to accidentally call a baby animal by the name of one of her own children.

So that’s it. No grand metaphors today, really, because it is summer, and in so many ways, life is just easier. Alright, I changed my mind. I just cannot resist. I was actually thinking during my drive about how one and the same landscape can seem so dangerous and bleak in one kind of weather, at one time of year, and another time of year, in another kind of weather, seem so benign and idyllic–the familiar all-American agrarian ideal, you know, involving freckled, barefoot children and a heaping helping of surface-level naivete about people being wholesome enough if they appear wholesome enough. Yes, I was comparing that to life, and how it may appear at times so benign and simply not a very big deal. And yet all the saints speak of life being a battle to the end and prayer being a matter of life or death, like a heated car carrying a mother and her babies through a subzero day.

Poetry Wednesday

Posted in: Poetry Wednesday
  1. annajouj
    June 30, 2010

    I love this, Julia. I love the poem. And I love your honestly beautiful words . . . so often your profound writing awes me in an intimidating sort of way. But today that same profundity awes me in a different way–a way that brings back all the joys of times with you, as a dear friend, over the years. So longing for time with you, I thank you for this post 🙂

  2. Molly Sabourin
    July 3, 2010

    Ok, LOVE the poem and now I have decided I was quite accurate about my original comparison of you and Ms. Annie Dillard. What is so great about both of you is your uncanny ability to conjur up in a reader's mind such vivid imagery. The small details you weave in, like Esme's tulle skirt and the varnished corn stalks, so sucked me in to your post, I could nearly smell that farm, could almost swear I'd been there just based upon your description of it. And then, also like Dillard, you manage to subtly and seamlessly tie together your memories and reflections with poignant observations about faith, motherhood, etc. You truly are just getting better and better! : )

    Keep at it, Julia!