Archive for March 7th, 2022


Comes in from a downpour
Shaking water in every direction —
A collaborative condition:
Gathered, shed, spread, then
Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love
From a lifetime ago, and mud
A dog has tracked across the floor.

–Tracy K. Smith

As in the post below from 3 years back, I wasn’t going to write anything this morning. Wanted to regroup. But his post showed up with a number of hits yesterday and I revisited it and it made me think. 

With all the suffering and death of innocent people we are witnessing in the clarity of a connected cyber world, we who are privileged in our lives forget how we are often privileged in our deaths. as well. Though nothing is truly guaranteed in this life, especially in world filled with guns and viruses, most of us live without the fear of an imminent senseless death. Few of us fear the whistle of an incoming missile or being shot by a sniper as we walk along a city street.

It makes me realize how great the privilege that is held by myself and others, one that allows me to consider my own death in abstract and distant forms. It’s a humbling thought.

Anyway, this post, especially with video of Tracy K. Smith reciting her verse, was just what I needed this morning.

Wasn’t going to write anything this morning but I stumbled across this video and poem and felt like sharing it. It’s The Everlasting Self from Tracy K. Smith, the current United States Poet Laureate. [This was in early 2019, Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate]

In this video, filmed just a few weeks ago, Smith reads her poem with the backing of Sō Percussion at National Sawdust, a center for the arts in Brooklyn.

The poem is a simple one at a glance. But in this performance Smith takes the few words of the verse and realigns them time and time again, constantly reconstructing the poem. It uses the same elements but each feels slightly different. It creates a meditative loop, something close to what I described in a recent post, Mantra, that was coincidentally from the same date as Smith’s performance.

This performance struck me because it reminds me of how I often see my work. They are often comprised of fragments of memory– repeated, realigned and reconstructed. They are seldom derived from ground-shaking moments, singular events from my past but rather from tiny bits of small observations and reactions from distinct memories.

The way the light looked at a certain moment. A color seen decades ago. A tree I passed on a solitary walk.

Small things that make up a life.

I sometimes stop on my walk to or from the studio and look carefully around.

I think to myself that if I were to die moments from now, could this be the one memory of this life I carry with me?

Would I go through whatever incarnation there may be in future lives with the memory of the cool wind rustling the maple trees and and the filtered sunlight on the tall green grass beneath the trees?

The richness of the color in the rhododendron flowers? The rhythmic thunk of the pileated woodpecker’s beak against a tree deeper into the forest? The rich earthy fragrance of the mud on my trail?

The silhouette of a hawk against the sky?

Would these images and sound and smells be constantly rumbling around my mind in different iterations for eternity?

This would all be okay with me.

And that’s what I feel from this lovely meditation from poet Tracy K. Smith. Made me feel good this morning.

Take a look and give a listen. Maybe it will do the same for you.

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