Thursday, July 4, 2019

Poetry Friday - Looking Long

                Poetry Friday this first Friday of July is hosted by Tricia Stohr-Hunt at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect. Today, she shares a triolet, inspired by her grandmother's stories of experiences in the Great Depression and World War II. Thanks, Tricia! Hope everyone enjoyed their Independence Day celebrations.








           When I taught, my students and I spent many hours outside with field journals, recording what they observed, questioning, doing further research, sketching. I used the following poem by John Moffitt often, hoping it would inspire each to settle in a quiet space and "look long".  

To Look At Anything

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
“I have seen spring in these
Woods,” will not do – you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.
~ John Moffitt ~

         Many of you know I spent the past two weeks at the beach, first enjoying the house by the shore myself, then with my family in the second week. I wrote many things, some simply to capture the moments, but one poem came through my own 'looking long' and appreciating more than I had in the past. Perhaps it is the political climate today that also inspired, but my thoughts during this 'looking long' made new connections this year.





Looking Long

I walked the shore
taking care not to bother  
the ibis having breakfast
or the scurrying sanderings
as I leaned and wandered,
searching for new shells.

Granddaughters and Grandson 
splashed in the water
playing catch with that superb ball that
would
not 
sink.
Grown children watched from
the chairs under the umbrella
grabbing cans of Negra Modelo,
talking, talking, catching each other’s news
after long months of separation.

I found one conch, no chip,
two slipper shells, faintly blue
and an auger, about four inches long,
super find.
So it was not impossible that I 
would fill a small bag to take back,
to add to the many already in the glass jar
back home.
They would be cleaned,
appearing untouched by rolling waves
that crash shells together.

Then I began an inner query of why--
why only perfect?
Why not look for the beauty within the imperfect–
the faded blue and yellow circles in the clam;
the hint of a boring worm or a barnacle
seen in a second, closer look.
I daydreamed about the possible size
of a broken shell, a wonder at something
I might never discover.
An important crossover reminded again,
to look longer, but at each human contact, 
finding new beauty.

Linda Baie ©




42 comments:

  1. Wow. I'm surprised at the emotion that welled up in my by the end of "Looking Long." The grandchildren and the children--love the detail about the beer--then the slow turn toward inner thoughts. It's only with living long, so to speak (not literally), that we can have this kind of reflection. YOu write it so beautifully. Cheers to you for a good vacation and I'm glad to see you back at home, safe and sound.

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    1. Thanks, Linda, it was hard to leave the ocean, the time there. It's okay to say 'living long', I have, & appreciate all the years.

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  2. I enjoyed seeing all of your photos from your trip, Linda. Your poem is a beautiful reminder to "look longer" and find "new beauty" in everyone we meet. Thank you for sharing it today!

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    1. Thanks, Catherine, it was one of those I 'had' to write, imagine you've been in that situation at time.

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  3. Thank you so much for your post, Linda. I got emotional as Linda Mitchell did when I read your poem. Your line "Why not look for the beauty within the imperfect–" applies to people as well. Here's to the beauty within all things!

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    1. You're welcome, Jane, I so appreciate your coming by and celebrating that 'beauty' with me.

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  4. Oh Linda, this is gorgeous.
    I've reread this a number of times and each time find myself on that beach with you, marvelling at the beauty all around us and in all the little bits and pieces.
    Thank you so much.

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    1. You're welcome, Cheriee. I'm so glad you liked what I came away with from the beach.

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    2. I am reading salt. by Nayyirah Waheed and found this poem I think you will appreciate,

      I found flaws
      and
      they were beautiful

      ---- ugly

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    3. That's all that needs to be said. It's lovely, Cheriee. Thank you!

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  5. Linda, the beach has such allure, doesn't it. I hear the shells where you were in Florida are beautiful and different than the shells on Long Island. What a beautiful inspirational poem you wrote from noticing and wondering as you walked along the shore. I am so happy that you shared your crossover thoughts. What a better world we would have if we looked at each individual with different eyes.

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    1. I am in love with the beach, the ocean, Carol. Yes, alluring. I agree about that better world. Thank you!

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  6. So lovely, Linda! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  7. I loved the John Moffitt poem and these lines in particular: "You must enter in
    To the small silences between
    The leaves," It seems to me that you entered a rich space during your walk on the beach and captured it in your lovely poem. Your words about finding beauty in the imperfect will linger with me. Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Molly. It was special to write the poem, and yes, I've loved Moffitt's poem for a long time.

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  8. Oh wow, you found much treasure in looking long. It reminds me of an article I read long ago that has stuck with me about taking time to look at things and how doing so will often reveal a solution. Glad you enjoyed your trip to the beach!

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    1. Thanks, Kay, the trip is always a pleasure. I'm happy to hear about your article about taking time for "looking long" at problems, too.

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  9. You've taken us on your trip with you and let us really "see" what you saw and experienced. Lovely!

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    1. Thanks, Kimberly, it was a pleasure to write and share.

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  10. "Looking longer" and deeper–and finding those "imperfections" yes to all! Your poem and John Moffitt's work very well together. Your first week alone sounds rewarding, thanks Linda.

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    1. You're welcome. It all was wonderful, alone & with family, Michelle. It goes so fast!

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  11. This is absolutely gorgeous, Linda. The details you chose are so perfect. And I love, love, love the idea of looking for the beautiful within the imperfect! Perfect!

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    1. Thanks, Carol, it was something important to me to write.

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  12. A lovely, special trip to the beach, enjoying family and that inner peace that comes with slowing down and looking long.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret, it really is always a wonderful time.

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  13. Enjoyed both poems, Linda. Thanks for the happy sighs!

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  14. Wonderful reflection of your time at the beach. I do love the ocean and looking for shells and having time there without schedules other than mealtimes. Thoroughly enjoyed the pics you posted and now, this poem. "A wonder at something I might never discover" and your reminder to look longer and find new beauty.

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    1. Thanks, Ramona, the first poem was important to me and used throughout my teaching & came to me as I walked & observed.

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  15. This was so beautiful and moving to me... Also, I love the requirement to look long. I'll be sharing that idea!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  16. Ah, yes. The danger of a single story. We need to really get to know a thing (or a person) so we can find out what/who they REALLY are...or have been...or could be.

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  17. How fitting that this poem, written on your travels, would take you on its own journey. I love how it travels from the outward view to the inward view, Linda. I'm guessing that when you started writing it, you didn't know that it would take you to that place of beautiful imperfection.

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    1. I found the shell first, then started writing, Michelle, wandering along until this end. Thanks!

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  18. Thank you for sharing your 'long look', Linda. I love the line: 'why only perfect?' in your poem and as a guide to looking long at things, and relationships with people. =)

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    1. Thanks, Bridget, wishing everyone would believe!

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  19. Oh! I didn't know that poem, which is speaking to my new effort at patience (a real weakness for me): to remember that *uality and realness and care in the way we use the planet take patience, to be more patient with myself in practicing something new (including patience!), and your *uery to yourself also, "Why perfect?", is the flip side of the long and fruitless hunt for perfect--another lesson for me. Here's hoping that 55 is not so old...I have a lot to work on!

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    1. Staying still and really 'seeing' is something I worked on all those years with students, too, Heidi. I admire your journey for patience & other reflections for change. Thanks, glad to introduce a new poem to you!

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