Friday, August 17, 2007

Joy & Stuff

So, what do you do for a wedding reading at the wedding of people who aren't "gushy"? The wedding of a couple of snake-wrangling science types who would probably snort if you started to say, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. . ." or anything like that. Yes, I'm talking about my snakey sister, whose wedding invitations (drawn by Jim and I) had a lizard on them, and whose wedding wine glasses bear a design of intertwined rattlesnakes (drawn by Jim) -- I'd post those images, but I'm still on the alien computer! "Wedding poetry" is gushy, old-fashioned stuff, mostly. Not their thing. So I've been looking for something a little more appropriate, and I'm not sure exactly what I'll read yet, but today at the bookstore I got lost in poetry.

Been a while since that happened. I'm pro-poetry, but I just haven't had the time for it in a while, I guess. Or made the time. When you feel like you don't have time and you crack open a poetry book, you can't really read it, you sort of look at it, but that's different. When you do really read it, settle into it, it can kind of tackle you with the fresh realization of how magnificent, how limber, how glittering, is language. I browsed through a lot of books and culled bits from here and there, but there was one anthology called Dancing With Joy, that has so many brilliant joyful poems in it. I just have to pass on some lines found in this and other books:

"Jump into experience while you are alive!
If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?"
- Kabir

". . .We must risk delight.
We can do without pleasure, but not delight.
We must have the stubborness to accept our gladness
in the ruthless furnace of this world. . ."
- Jack Gilbert, from A Brief for the Defense

"Suddenly I realized that if I stepped out of my body I would break into blossom."
- James Wright, from A Blessing

"The body does not wear out with
use, nor does love, so let us
use each other in the best of ways
as the hours jump off the cliff."
- Marge Piercy, from The Real Hearth

from Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or I hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for--
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy. . .

from Blossoms
by Li-Young Lee

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

These are days we live
as if death was nowhere,
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

And man, if I haven't lost you yet, check out this depiction of a blissful girl:

by Tony Hoagland
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair,looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy.

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.

Cripes. Dude can write!

Any ideas for a great non-gushy wedding reading will be appreciated!

I treated myself to a dress from Anthropologie to wear to the wedding; it's blue-violet and so cute, and today I found some great, unexpected shoes to go with. I think I've found a stylist to pinken up my hair on monday, and tomorrow, Jim and I are going to Sequoia National Park to see the world's largest tree, amid many of the world's almost-largest trees! I can't WAIT! Hope you have a great weekend too!


Kim G. said...

Ok - took a quick look in my anthology and found this one. It seems fitting for two scientists.

The Present
For the present there is just one moon,
though every level pond gives back another.

But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon,
perceived by astrophysicist and lover,

is milliseconds old. And even that light's seven minutes older than its source.

And the stars we think we see on moonless nights
are long extinguished. And, of course,

this very moment, as you read this line,
is literally gone before you know it.

Forget the here-and-now. We have no time
but this device of wantonness and wit.

Make me this present then: your hand in mine,
And we'll live out our lives in it.

Michael Donaghy

Good luck and enjoy the wedding!

tinker said...

I don't know how appropriate it might be, depending upon the group and who's reading it to whom - but Marge Piercy's "The Implications of One + One," includes a sensual line about a snake :)

Though I really love her "Colours" one - can't remember the full title of it right now, but I remember loving the line about "laying a box of crayons at my feet" - I'm probably getting it all wrong, but I like the whole idea of two people's colors mixing together...

Anyway, good luck - and have fun in the Sequoia's. Hope you bring back photos.

Hooray for big trees!

tinker said...

Naw, just went and re-read them - may still be too gushy - and part of why I like Marge Piercy is she isn't all that gushy ("Attack of the Zucchini People" being one of my favorites, of course, lol).

I love her "Toad Dreams" - that might be a maybe...

Good luck!

Frida said...

Wow - I don't know about you Laini but I'm voting for Kim G's suggestion from Michael Donaghy. I'm putting that one in my notebook in case I ever want to seduce a certain scientist I know myself.

And I LOVE all of those poems and excerpts. The anthology sounds like something I'd like to have on my breakfast table - one dose of linguistic and poetic joy with every morning latte. Mmmm

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I don't have any non-mushy recommendations. I'm a sentimental fool and love me some sappy poetry.

But, I did want to say thanks for the poetry. It just made my day to get lost in a little lyrical beauty for a moment.

~ Brightphoenix

Anonymous said...

There are many wonderful excerpts to be had from "Poetry and Marriage" by Wendell Berry who is, as an ecologist, farmer and writer-- anything but gushy but he has clear, well-crafted thoughts about why marry? in that essay. Also, I would have mentioned Mary Oliver-- you cannot go wrong with her-- and she is never mushy-- but you included one of her poems so you already know that resource--

You'll find the perfect one!


Anonymous said...

What a dumb way to spend a Saturday. Who wants to see the world's biggest tree? Apparently, you do...couldn't you just have googled it and saved yourself the drive? Lame!

~Michelle~ said...

LOVE Grammar by Tony Hoagland, mee-YOW! Your dress sounds adorable and I bet it is heavenly against the intoxicating hue of your hair. Have a delicious time enjoying the largest tree amongst the other largest trees, I love stuff like that! ~Michelle~ in NorCal

Rita said...

Thank you for these poems. I've put the book on hold at the library!!

Shannon said...

Loved the chance to think about poetry today. Thank you...

I also recommend Mary Oliver …

I read once in the NYT Wedding Page that a couple read a favorite story of mine from Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books — "Alone" . A wonderful statement about being alone *and* together. To quote a review, "as Frog tells Toad in "Alone," the book's final story, "I am happy. I am very happy. This morning when I woke up I felt good because the sun was shining. I felt good because I was a frog. And I felt good because I have you as a friend." You can also get a bit of the flavor of the story here:

In addition, here's another idea (but perhaps too sappy)...
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

— Pablo Neruda, Love Sonnet XVII
So love reading your blog and am especially enjoying your exuburence with writing. Congrats on all your success!

Marilyn said...

If you haven't LOST us yet?! Are you kidding me?! ;) Must read that book STAT. Reading those excerpts filled my eyes with tears...of joy. Thank you for sharing it.

steve said...

"Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust."

Maybe it's too late to submit a suggestion, but there's always Gregory Corso's poem, "Marriage." Kathleen and I weren't brave enough to use it at our wedding--we stuck with Shakespeare's sonnet. Corso's not gushy, but not exactly a scientist. He was one of the Beats. He hadn't been married at the time he wrote the poem. I'm not sure whether he was married or divorced at 60:

"Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!"