this is not a dark show, but a show filled with imagination’s colors and invoking of lifesaving creativity at a time of darkness

If I keep a green bough in my heart a singing bird will come. Chinese proverb

Give me a rose in the winter time, when it’s hard to find, give me a rose in the winter time, I’ve got roses on my mind, for a rose is sweet most any time and yet, give me a rose in the wintertime, how easy to forget—that’s a Girl Scout song, and If I keep a green bough in my heart a singing bird will come, is a Chinese proverb, both about a way to live through winter blues and

darks, strategies of the imagination, images, memories of what we love drawn from our hearts and minds, and that’s what I’m talkin’ about, this is Professor Barbara Mossberg, with the Poetry Slow Down, how our imaginations are vital, the gift that keeps on giving, keep us going, give us a sense of hope we need to live, to draw from in our winters. Here in California where I’m broadcasting there are actual, not just remembered, roses in the wintertime, oranges hang from green boughs outside the window, with bright green leaves, and still some orange fish in my father’s dark green pond, although we lost the orange-turned-luminous pink goldfish this morning, or we discovered its loss this morning, in our ritual checking the pond to begin the day with a celebration, to marvel at the triumph of orange in dark water and dark night, orange surviving cats and cold and raccoons, and now, staring and staring, filling in the pond with the pink fish in our minds . . . But the question is a metaphor: How do we access the rose in our wintertime? The luminous pink fish in our life’s pond? Poets, what say you? It seems that every poet weighs in on the rose, the spirit of the green bough. We’ll read some, Shakespeare, Mark Doty, Gary Snyder, William Carlos Williams, Kermit the Frog, David Grossman, Ezra Pound, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman . . .  John Updike, Robert Frost, Thomas Campion, Amy Gerstler, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Neruda, and others, life’s singing birds; the rapture of a rose in our sights, its complicated constructed beauty that we never take for granted—that this troubled abused earth in spite of all we do to it, yet produces this rose, that we distracted and stressed humans grow such beauty; give me a rose in the winter time, goes the song, and to whom is it addressed? The poet, the maker, the imagination of our humanity: and our poets answer: they give us the rose in the winter-time. So from ancient Chinese to Girl Scout wisdom, we will hear what makes for green boughs in the heart, the mind’s roses in the wintertime, poems that like marmelade preserve the orange and sweetness when the authors are toast, long after the oranges are gone and before they appear again, and stories about how the imagination can save our lives and preserve our spirit of fortitude: I will begin with two stories for us, about what is at stake in being able to conjure a rose in the wintertime, a green bough in the heart for us, one from the book I was telling you about a while back, David Grossman, an Israeli newsman turned novelist whose latest book has been translated into English by Jessica Cohen, To the End of the Land, and one is a story from my own life these days, from the ongoing drama at my late mother’s and father’s house, and they both have to do with life and death. And we see an unexpected happy ending, deux ex machina! While we are still outside of the box, ashes container or coffin, let’s use our creativity, our imagination, our poetry, to conjure the green bough in our hearts, the rose in our wintertime! Examples from the real world: my avocado tree, which grew resurrected in green out of a dried out withered stalk, and my pink fish, photos are here!

© Barbara Mossberg 2011

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *