the continuous life

1990 back cover photo by Denise Eagleson

1990 back cover photo by Denise Eagleson

One of my all-time-favorite poems is “The Continuous Life” by Mark Strand from his book of poems, The Continuous Life.  Here’s the beginning:

What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched in the bushes,
Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender,

The poem in its entirety can be found on The Writer’s Almanac.

I was rereading the poem again yesterday and was surprised–although by now I guess I shouldn’t be–that the things I liked about the poem had changed since my husband gave me this book in 1990.

What I loved this time:

Say there will always be cooking and cleaning to do,
That one thing leads to another, which leads to another;

That one thing leads to another. I guess that phrase is like anything you notice and then begin to see everywhere. It was there all along; it’s just that I wasn’t paying attention or it had no meaning for me before or I wasn’t ready for it. Now, sometimes, I’m able not to impose order but to let myself be led here and there.

that you live in a blur
Of hours and days, months and years, and believe
It has meaning, despite the occasional fear
You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing
To prove you existed.

I’m trying to catch days, to make sure they stick. Sometimes a week goes by in a blur anyway. And I’m writing, writing, writing. Still, some days it does feel as if nothing is completed. I think of my novels–do they have to be published to be completed?

learning to lean down close and hear
The careless breathing of earth and feel its available
Languor come over you, wave after wave,

To be still enough to hear the sound of the earth. To pause long enough. To wait. In Mari Strachan’s novel,  The Earth Hums in B Flat, which I mentioned a few posts ago, little Gwenni at 12 1/2 already knows to lean down close to listen for this hum. To recenter.

Enjoy a poetry moment today. See what catches you–or what you can catch.