I am puffed clay, blown up and set down. That I fall like Adam is not surprising. I plunge, waft, arc, pour, and dive. The surprise is how good the wind feels on my face as I fall. And the other surprise is that I ever rise at all. I rise when I receive, like grass.
Falling and rising. Like Adam on that apple day, making a choice, accepting the consequences. With one bite of that naked fruit, he sentenced Annie Dillard and me and you to a lifetime of falling, plunging, wafting, arcing, pouring, diving. That's what life is: a constant lesson in falling and learning how to rise, reaching down and then up again.
Today is Leap Day. February 29. It happens once every four years. Always in a presidential election year in the United States. Always in a Summer Olympics year. On February 29, you're supposed to make a leap, do something you normally wouldn't do. Sometimes, like Adam, you fall. And then you pick yourself up, add some water, and turn your face upward. Toward the sun.
This morning, it was snowing. Blowing. Cars were in the ditch, on top of snowbanks. It felt like a day when something bad could happen. Or good. That was my state all day. Waiting for something bad or good to come my way. And I waited. And waited.
I did not make a conscious leap today. In the past, I've bought weird hats to wear. Worn strange earrings. Gone on trips. Instead, I went to work and started taking an online class. Nothing earth-shattering. I haven't taken a class in a long, long time. Don't like following other people's schedules, I guess. Perhaps that's my leap today: I am a student for the next four weeks. For better or worse.
Hopefully, I will rise, not fall.
This week, I choose Matt Gavin Frank as Poet of the Week. Matt is a friend of mine, a writer who always takes chances, makes leaps.
Saint Marty hopes you take the leap with him.
Elegy for the Whitefish
by: Matt Gavin Frank
The grandfather, surrounded by Illinois doves,
does not see his wife in the rowboat. She imagines
smothering him in his sleep, his hair pulling off
with the pillowcase. The greenest feather
remembers the earth.
The whitefish dive, their beds behind them.
Women, tighter than glass, forget,
They raise their fingers before their hands,
whitefish hanging in the seaweed, throat
and spine disown their avenue, begin
to take in air.
Down the street, the synagogue closes its doors,
Rabbi Kaminker packing blue prayer books
into a blue duffel bag. My grandparents can no longer
buy him lunch, but they still remember the pink
of his wrists.
He holds his son to the radiator vent. Mrs. Papier
upstairs singing a Polish opera. In the morning,
he writes my family name on a piece of yellow paper.
He forgets to prepare breakfast,
writing and writing.