Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Word

Last prompt. For now.
As I had promised, this is a companion piece to yesterday's prompt. So for today, please write a 500 word piece inspired by Tony Hoagland's "The Word" (below):
The Word
Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,
between "green thread"
and "broccoli" you find
that you have penciled "sunlight."
Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend
and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning -- to cheer you up,
and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,
that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue
but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom
still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,
- to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.
-- Tony Hoagland

This beautiful poem fills me with ineffable sadness at the thought of lives that have, somehow, disconnected themselves from their source, whatever they may perceive it to be. The recognition that the soul needs nurture, and that the inner self needs care, is a must.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?

I am inspired, a little facetiously perhaps, by the poet, Sumana Roy, to think of myself as a plant, and try to make sure to keep myself rooted and grounded, and well “watered”, and sunned. Sad to say, people forget that they are biological creatures, also a part of nature, and that their genuine well–being is closely linked to being as close to nature as they can be, and in not letting the vicissitudes of daily life disconnect them from the very core of their being. Even though ‘sunlight’ is written in a list in the poem, it is an acknowledgement of the need for caring for oneself, with time, and nature, and doing what makes you happy.
There was a book I read many years ago, called Cheaper by the Dozen, about life in the home of a couple who are time and motion study and efficiency experts.  ( When asked what he wants to do with all the time that he has saved, the father concludes his reply by saying, “For skittles, if that’s where your heart lies…”    
The key phrase being, “where your heart lies”.
Life can be confusing and puzzling and vexing, and we often need a word or more to keep us going. Hoagland’s word here is sunlight. My go-to word is Desiderata, the title of a poem I first encountered in my early teens.                              Different lines from this have resonated at different times. Today, these do:                                       
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the Universe no less than the trees and the stars: you have the right to be here. _____keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Being happy, and/or striving to be happy, are acts of gratitude for the bounty of this human life.
Sadly, there are many people across the globe who suffer conditions of all kinds, both innate and external, that preclude the presence of sunlight in their lives. The roles of parents and caregivers of children assume great importance in how they influence the child’s perception of the world. In order to raise happy children, it is imperative that the caregivers have support and nurturance for themselves, too, before they can be expected to do justice to their wards.                              In the timeless wisdom of countless flight announcements, ‘Please place the oxygen mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.                                                          
“The king and queen alive, still speaking to their children…”
Only listen.


Banno said...

That's so beautiful, Dipali and so sad.

dipali said...

Thank you, so much, Banno.

Sesha Reddigari; said...

A very poignant mix of awareness and conscience.