(with thanks to Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, and Kenneth Helphand, Defiant Gardens, Thoreau, Walden, Edmund Rostand, Chanticler, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, and a few maverick rooster-loving emperors and poets here and there)
I TOLD YOU IT WOULD BE ALL RIGHT–
(Title of painting by William Park, Waiting Room, Department of Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente Westside Center, Portland, Oregon),
I WHO HAVE DIED AM ALIVE AGAIN TODAY (e.e. cummings, “i thank You God for most this amazing”)
“there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”—Leonard Cohen covering Groucho Marx (“blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light”) covering Rumi (“the wound is the place where the light enters you”)
I can’t do it w/out Homer, Dante, you—it takes a village, the village it takes: the epic view from hip surgery.
All right, the truth is, YOU told me it would be all right, you, and the poets, the troubadours, the artists, and the truth is, it takes a village, and it takes a rooster. We are cracking open the light, breaking so that there can be entering, new thoughts, new life, and we cannot do this alone, this being life, our risky journey. Our journey on which we must find courage, to believe that we would be alive again today.
And so this is the first of our post op new hip radio show live, reporting to you, O PoetrySlowDown, on the role that poetry plays encouraging us when we find ourselves like Dante’s narrator, the way I realized it was during childbirth—there was no turning around; I was in this; this had to be played out and there was no one to do this for me; and yet, and yet, as Dante tells us in The Inferno, facing the fanged and snarling monsters as he finds himself lost in the woods, there is a poet who comes to lead the way. In Dante’s case, it is Virgil, covering, of course, Homer, and in my case, finally going into surgery for a total hip replacement, and you know I’m wimpering, despite my sashaying around and brave mien, my doctor with a spring in his step and a light in his eye, he’s going to lead me out of pain, and e.e. cummings, and the epic poets cheering me on as I go under (Dante-esque) and emerge into light (Dante-esque); in the waiting room yesterday two weeks out of surgery, being told it’s all okay, I’m walking, I’m taller, and there is this painting of birds in a tree, I’m loving this painting, and I go to see what its title is, and it’s I Told You It Would Be All Right–the tree filled with birds, it is the singing village of all these poets in my mind, this community of ours—I have been afraid of so much, and so our show today, with theme music from Leonard Cohen, covering Rumi (and Groucho Marx), Bob Marley, the Beach Boys, Cat Stevens, Carousel, and Jacques Brel, they’re telling us, and now, yes, I’m telling you I told you it would be all right, that is what we have to tell each other, believe, to go on . . .
Three Little Birds, Bob Marley
Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens
Anthem, Leonard Cohen
Don’t Worry Baby, Everything Will Turn All Right, The Beach Boys
When You Walk Through a Storm, (You’ll Never Walk Alone), from the musical Carousel
No Love You’re Not Alone, Jacque Brel (Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris)
October 21, 2015 9:30 am, from my journal:
“there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”—Leonard Cohen covering Groucho Marx covering Rumi
“the wound is the place where the light enters you”
I can’t do it without Homer, Dante, Ovid, you—the village it takes, the revelation of the village, who’s here, the beauty
Five days out from the shore on the open sea of a new life, past the breakers I think. My prayer, my prayer, is to be worthy of this new chance of a life, to deserve this fortune, this healing. To give myself the strength of spirit the universe deserves to be of great faith in the healing process, to sail past the worry, to not let it block my way, to respect the forces of wind urging me on, at my back, having my back. To be worthy of the gift of consciousness. I ask for forgiveness for my worry—shame on me. I ask for forgiveness. I ask to be seen for my heart full of desire to do justice to this experience, to bring healing consciousness. To make the metaphors by which I can imagine the healing. Nicolino got me started just before surgery with having me imagine Pop Pop’s tree in Yosemite, the Tuoloumne Meadows, the Merced. I was instantly there. When my hip, when I came home, my whole right thigh, began to throb with heat, and stiffness, and the monsters of infection and pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis bared their fangs at me, stood in my path, like Dante’s narrator, in The Divine Comedy, I knew to summon Virgil, a poet who could lead me on this path towards the light; I imagined myself as a river, the Merced, its green chill from glaciers, energized over rocks, falling, and now, in me, flowing. I imagined that my new hip makes my body into this river, I am the river, flowing, the new hip a salmon in this stream, holding itself, defining the river’s capacity to bear strong enduring life, and this morning, I asked for help in working this metaphor, because metaphor is how we can heal, how we can deal, a new way to think ourselves out of a problem, into a solution, a way the equation breaks up and reconnects to a new whole, lets in the light of imagination, and how the dragonfly entered into it as the unifying metaphor. Dragonflies appear, dazzling, on a stalk, completing the whole ecosystem. I realized that Dr. Hodge is the dragonfly, bringing to my body its way of completion and healing, the flag for the reed flagpole of my bones, of my femur, and it just fits into my marrow, to make this whole ecosystem whole. This imagery cools my hot leg, gives me courage, to have faith in the healing.
My dreams were about this. As I walked this morning, looking out at the morning sky, I crowed, ere r ere r er! All creatures, us included, see morning coming, but only the rooster responds, speaks back, a recognition, to our world. The rooster redeems all of us, letting the universe know it is noticed, its tremendous work of cracking open darkness to create morning, nature’s new life, transformation, miracle. I think now of how Thoreau in the beginning of Walden sets himself up as his community’s rooster, awakening our consciences, our consciousness, to live in a new way, a morning way. He’s Chanticleer. I too will join this voice of morning, a joyful crow.
I don’t say that everyone should go out and get hip surgery. But to do so creates a window onto one’s world, the goodness in it, each word and gesture, as people write and call and bring soup and food and flowers, and this vision of insight, whom we have here in our world, is worth the price of the whole surgery. The crack the wound opens up is in fact the soul force of poetry, how poetry it is there for us, with us, of us, as we venture forth in bravery. We’ll hear our poet roosters! A new day is here! Hip hip hooray!
© Barbara Mossberg 2015
PoetrySlowDown podcast barbaramossberg.com
Produced by Zappa Johns, radiomonterey.com, Sunday Noon 11.1.15