Friday, July 08, 2011

Poetry Friday -- Seeing Instead of Just Looking

To His Piano
by Howard Nemerov

Old friend, patient of error as of accuracy,
Ready to think the fingerings of thought,
You but a scant year older than I am

To see you standing there for six decades
Containing chopsticks, Fur Elise, and
The Art of Fugue in your burnished rosewood box,
As well as all those years of silence and
The stumbling beginnings the children made
(the whole poem is at The Writer's Almanac)

Men Throwing Bricks
by Michael Chitwood

The one on the ground lofts two at a time
with just the right lift for them to finish
their rise as the one on the scaffold turns
to accept them like a gift and place them
on the growing stack. They chime slightly
on the catch. You'd have to do this daily,
morning and afternoon, not to marvel.

(this poem can be found at The Writer's Almanac)

There is such a beauty in the ordinariness of life -- the things around us that we sometimes look at without seeing, but which hold so much meaning inside our memories -- watching others do hard work with ease and grace (or finding those moments of ease and grace in one's own work).

Ordinary: the screen door to the back yard of my childhood home. And yet, when I look at that picture, I hear the sound of the door handle, and feel the lush grass on my bare feet, the heat of the morning sun on the patio.

Elaine has today's Poetry Friday roundup at Wild Rose Reader.


  1. That ordinary beauty is the kind I want most, and I agree, so much of finding it depends on looking long. Best wishes for your summer, Mary Lee!

  2. Anonymous10:30 AM

    This post reminds me of how I enjoyed Pablo Neruda's Ode to Common things. We think of beauty sometimes as ethereal and extravagant, when sometimes in the simple things there is beauty like the aroma of the house when coffee is brewing.

  3. We could go on and on, couldn't we, about the wonders and pleasures and surprises of really seeing (feeling) ordinary things?

    I worry about our children's ability to notice any of that. If summer camp for young teens consists of traveling from water park one day to amusement park the next to go-karts the third, etc etc, suddenly all those "special occasion" experiences begin to seem like ordinary life, and the beauty of a peach that happens to be shaped just like your baby sister's bottom seems rather inconsequential.

    Let us all Be Here Now, and keep the children with us. Thanks for these moments with these brick-solid but musical moments, Mary Lee.

  4. I'm thinking of you as a child peering out that screen, rain or shine. I bet you wondered as broadly then as you do now.

  5. I love this! Thanks for sharing, it really is a beautiful poem!


  6. That second poem was such a was Heidi's line:Let us all Be Here Now, and keep the children with us. I'm thinking of all the writing and imagining and longing that line inspires.

  7. Yes indeed - we're so looking forward to breaking up for the summer holidays and just getting into the woods with the dog. Ordinary things... And your first extract made me feel quite nostalgic, as I thought of my trusted piano and my dreadful, continued efforts at "stumbling beginnings" and now my own son's just being at the stage where he's learniong Fur Elise and loves palying Chopsticks as fast as he possibly can! Thank you, Mary Lee.

  8. I adore those old window screens. My grandmother's house (where I grew up) had one almost just like it. I spent a lot of time with my nose pressed up against the screen.

    It is the poetry of our everyday lives that speaks the loudest to me.

  9. Thank you for sharing these, Mary Lee, and especially for your own rich comments and photo. There's magic in the ordinary when we slow down to look and listen, isn't there? I agree with Heidi we need to nurture this at every turn with kids.

  10. Oh, I'm so glad to have made late Poetry Friday rounds! These poems and your photo are such an important reminder, and an inspiration too. May your simple moments this week be full of light and happiness, Mary Lee! A.


Comment moderation is turned on.