Water strung

You have to listen to the rain. It’s the least foolish voice.

Click to view film clip on YouTube

That’s Ravi Shankar playing the sound of rain in this film clip from Satyajit Ray’s 1955 film Pather Panchali. And the drenched duo — the sweet-faced brother and sister — are free spirits stubbornly haunting land that no longer belongs to their family. Without their ancestral fruit trees and crops to rejoice in the monsoon, they soak up as much rain as their hair can hold.

What else can we do with the rain? April showers awaken flowers, and April poetry powers literary insight. Soak it up this month.

Visit Poets.org to find ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month

I’m observing by reading Max Ritvo’s Four Reincarnations, which is an austere, challenging, truthful poetry collection. It was posthumously published in 2016 after his death at age 25. How a young man facing cancer can steal the heart of life.

Lyric complicity for one
by Max Ritvo

I wanted to speak with a woman
so passionately and imaginatively that our personalities
would dissolve, we would begin to lie,
and a thing between us
much more beautiful than either of our voices
would begin to speak—-a lyric complicity.

Instead, imagine a fisherman
rubbing hot water on his throat.
His mother once said
gargle hot water when your throat’s tight.
He can’t remember the word gargle in the memory,
only his mother fanning out her fingers as she said it,
small, precise, and a little wicked.
So now he gets it wrong, remembering the fingers, feeling forlorn.

Beneath him swim bluefin tuna at fifty miles an hour,
fast and invisible as the wicked fingers.
These sea-seams, these black-bodied cloaks of guts,
are just as dazed as the thoughts of the fisherman.
For every thought, a new fish soars
right under the anchored boat—-
a lullaby to quiet another lullaby.

That what we want is close by and whizzing past, while thoughts and gestures wander. Yes, that sounds close to the maddening feeling of writing a poem.

But it is comforting to know what is near, which seems like a reason to write through pain and illness. I don’t want to oversimplify what it is, though.

Rain relents, doves arrive, and life turns toward the sun. The poets dwell on death a lot because that’s the job. That’s the way poems awaken us to life.

From Poetry Foundation
Statue of William Cullen Bryant behind the NYPL
Bryant Park, NYC

I’m ready for poetry to fly, as I commit to writing more of it as another part of my National Poetry Month observance. If any of you are doing a poem-a-day challenge, I hope you have compiled some materials around you to draw ideas and language from.

For inspiration, try listening to this podcast from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Ross Gay talks about lots of stuff that needs rain to grow. Enjoy those April showers….

2 thoughts on “Water strung

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