Tuesday, April 7, 2015


A Prism Scene Rendered with Indigo RendererMarcellusWallace

This one moment.
This one crystallized moment broken open --spilling
the essence of all contained and hidden
within its boundaries of time
and space
and imagination.

This one moment
This one divine moment deconstructed --laying bare
all the shades and shadows, all the layers
all the phases and phrases leading up
to this moment
and beyond.

This one moment
This one significant moment explored and exploded--opening
revelations and visions of all possible moments
re-membering our own stories
while reflecting forgotten truths
This one moment.

Poetry--  good poetry-- can make us look at a single moment, 
revealing the prism of meanings---the rainbow 
of interpretations missed
if we do not stop and capture them
if we do not pause and drink this moment
if we keep walking, talking, and sleeping past this moment

Ted Kooser (U.S. Poet Laureate 2004-2006) made the following statement in his American Life in Poetry Column #269:
It is enough for me as a reader that a poem take from life a single moment and hold it up for me to look at. There need not be anything sensational or unusual or peculiar about that moment, but somehow, by directing my attention to it, our attention to it, the poet bathes it in the light of the remarkable. 
In that particular column, he offers us a poem by Carolyn Miller, The World as It Is as just such a poem.  Here are the opening lines:
No ladders, no descending angels, no voice
out of the whirlwind, no rending
of the veil, or chariot in the sky—only
water rising and falling in breathing springs
and seeping up through limestone, aquifers filling
and flowing over, russet stands of prairie grass
and dark pupils of black-eyed Susans....

Poetry calls us to memorialize moments--small and large. 
Poetry forces us to recall fragile feelings,  rare relationships, and ordinary observations.

As I drove early in the morning to a Diocesan Convention this past November,  the sunset painted and prefaced the day with such beauty that as I continued to drive,I composed the following haiku:

Sunrise - a new day
with shekinah potential
and orange possibilities

A moment savored. A moment saved.

 In You Reading This, Be Ready, William Stafford calls for us to  be present in each moment. He reminds us to pay attention to our surroundings, our thinking and our feelings as we move through the world. 

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now?...

In the introduction to the Teachable Moments section of Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach, we find these words that further remind us of the power of poetry to help us remember the moment:

The teachers describe how reading poetry provides a low-tech version of time-lapse photography. Poetry captures the single luminous moment. From this moment we can reflect, savor, and more deeply understand. 

We find powerful moments on which to reflect daily if we pay attention.

Sharon Olds has such a moment on the subway as she faces her whiteness and all that is signified by it,  while sitting opposite a boy in the same car in all his blackness. She records her thoughts in a poem, On the Subway:

The boy and I face each other.
His feet are huge, in black sneakers
laced with white in a complex pattern like a
set of intentional scars. We are stuck on
opposite sides of the car, a couple of
molecules stuck in a rod of light
rapidly moving through darkness. 

He has the casual cold look of a mugger,
alert under hooded lids. ...

I am wearing dark fur, the
whole skin of an animal taken and

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone (own work))
[CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)],
via Wikimedia Commons

And finally I invite you to not only to remember and reflect on selected moments, but to explore and explode these moments-- seeking more details, more understanding.  See my previous post,  Exploding a Moment: Exploring with Writing, for samples, suggestions, and related resources.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Consider the past day or two.  Select a moment that stands out in your mind.
List details-- metaphors, comparisons, sensory information, emotions--all that you remember about that moment.

Write a short poem capturing all that is essential.

Explore your moment.
What additional details do you now remember?
What sensory details can be added? Where can further description be expanded?
What comparisons occur to you?
Can you add analogies? Are there appropriate metaphors that can be included?
What did it mean?  How did you feel? 
Now write a second poem that explodes the moment.

See my previous post,  Exploding a Moment: Exploring with Writing, for samples, suggestions, and related resources.

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