A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
No, we didn’t expect to be startled by feelings of half-forgotten joy as we strolled the trail along the bay just after dawn broke, just hoped to listen to the quiet of the sky, maybe calm our iambic heartbeats to pulse in synch with the hum of the cosmos. For a moment or two, at least. Because streaks of pink were still suffusing across a placid skin of generously expansive bay and beyond it a steely glow washing white into a gray sky was haloing an iconic blue hill, that in turn cast its solemn image half way across serene waters, a mirroring that once suggested that other perfect side of things to old poets high on Plato whose florid poems the people we call “the people” still consider to be the only real poetry, though they only read it in school, we recognized this scenery to be an example of the sublime. Quietly, though. The sort of view people look at and say awesome while taking pictures of their faces with their phones with nature scenes behind them like the river and hills decorating the grimy background of the Mona Lisa. We were, after all, past being puzzled by a heaviness we feel mingled with admiration when confronted by beauty, well aware that massed sparkles of shimmering scintillations blazing in the rose-hued channel would momently sweep across the bay, replacing exotic sfumati shades with unambiguous daylight and revealing the is of what really is, turning the hallowed hum a quietness had given us into a distant growl of traffic grinding to jobs of work. And as we turned to hike deeper into muffling woods, a troop of blue jays descended like screeching harpies all about us, darting and veering in erratic flutters from limb to limb, jeering discordant grievances like city klaxons blaring all at once, yet not in unison, as if each one was heebie-jeebied by the others yet none dared fly off alone into the umbral forest. But no, we knew seem is not is, others are not us. Though one that lingered did seem to be shrieking imprecations on us for being where water, sky, rocks, earth and trees are beings until we arrived to think of them as things. Dawn broken and forgotten, we rested on a bench dedicated to the memory of a beloved pet and listened to blue jays’ distant cries, fluting as one sweet clarion voice.
William Hathaway’s many books include Dawn Chorus: New and Selected Poems 1972-2017 (Somondoco Press, 2018). He lives with his wife Ellen in Maine where they take long walks, read good books and feed the birds.
Copyright 2021 William Hathaway