Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18: Warmth from the Moon, Poet of the Week, Terry Godbey, "Every Stolen Breath"

I look to the sky.  What do I know of deep space with its red giants and white dwarfs?  I think of our own solar system, of the five mute moons of Uranus--Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, Oberon, Miranda--spinning in their fixed sleep of thralldom.  These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits.  At last I look to the moon; it hangs fixed and full in the east, enormously scrubbed and simple.  Our own hometown ultima moon.  It must have been a wonderful sight from there, when the olive continents cracked and spread, and the white ice rolled down and up like a window blind.  My eyes feel cold when I blink; this is enough of a walk tonight.  I lack the apparatus to feel a warmth that few have felt--but it's there.  According to Arthur Koestler, Kepler felt the focused warmth when he was experimenting on something entirely different, using concave mirrors, Kepler wrote, "I was engaged in other experiments with mirrors, without thinking of the warmth; I involuntarily turned around to see whether somebody was breathing on my hand."  It was warmth from the moon.

Dillard is cold.  Winter cold.  The grass is brittle.  Branches are frozen.  There's ice, frozen clay, and moonlight.  Lots of moonlight, the "lustre of elf-light."  Dream-like and iced.  She searches for warmth, finds it in the most unlikely of places.  Deep space, with its red giants and white dwarfs and mute moons.  She finds it in reflection, in lunar glow.

Sorry to wax so poetic this late at night.  I have had a rather long, eventful day.  The good news:  my broken tooth is no longer broken.  The bad news:  it took an hour-and-a-half in a dentist chair, several shots in the mouth, and a lot of drilling.  I am now on an antibiotic (my tooth broke below the gum line and got infected).  On top of all that, it's damn cold out.  Below-zero, cancel-school cold.

Yes, my kids went to school this morning, but the snow didn't crunch under my boots when I started my car to drive them to the bus stop.  The snow snapped, like pieces of Styrofoam.  And, tonight, the sky is cloudless, and the mercury slowly heading south again.  The moon is shedding no warmth on the Upper Peninsula.

Yes, I am writing a blog post about the weather and warmth and the moon.  Dillard somehow connects these disparate subjects, gives them weight and meaning.  I appreciate writers who do this--make connections between things that seem connectionless.

The Poet of the Week is Terry Godbey, a fantastic poet who has the gift of making connections.  Yes, she has been awarded this title before.  However, this evening I was paging through Godbey's collection, Hold Still, and I came across the poem below which makes connections that speak to me this evening.  Between illness and healing.  Pain and the heart.  Son and mother.  Grandfather and moon.

Saint Marty is feeling lycanthropic tonight.  He needs to howl a little.

Every Stolen Breath

by:  Terry Godbey

There is nothing left to believe in,
except illness.

Gasping, I must stop four times
to climb the stairs,
even with my son behind me,

Oxygen is scarce
but not doctors--
I have six of them on speed dial.
They make me take deep breaths
in a glass booth,
wheeze on a treadmill,
describe my malfunction:

It's as if your heart
is inside a stone.

I can't say you won't have a heart attack,
but we have to take care
of your cancer first.

So I am cleared for lumpectomy,
handed a note that warns
of moderate risk of a cardiac event,
told to stay calm
and return for repairs.

When the chest pain fires up
that night, I refuse to call
an ambulance.
My son persuades me to stay awake,
afraid I'll slip away
in my sleep.,
The full moon rises
outside my window,
stays with me till dawn,
a kindly grandfather,
finally something benign.

Give it a minute . . . It's really funny!

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