Evening’s Everything

December 9, 2012

Each baby glows. Wings unfurled,
they spring from a crease of clouds.
They can’t know what it’s like to see
them flying overhead, to see
their diapers peel away, their bodies
so hairless: to see so much energy,
so concentrated in what are,
after all, immature muscles.
Yet they move more like falcons than kites.
To be what must be a fractal of yourself
as it forms amid the clouds: to feel
in each beat a wing of your own expansion:
to be produced from clouds every evening…
all sweetmeats, incense, gold leaf, everything.

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5 Responses to “Evening’s Everything”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    Jim, this poem makes me smile and chuckle. I cannot help but think about sweet chubby cherubs painted on cathedral domes, but you’ve added so much more for me now with these lines: To be what must be a fractal of yourself
    as it forms amid the clouds: to feel
    in each beat a wing of your own expansion:
    to be produced from clouds every evening…
    all sweetmeats, incense, gold leaf, everything.
    Conversely, I also think about death alongside this heavenly image of immaturity and baby-ness. I sense a “wish” in this poem for recreation or rebirth or…something that seems more expansive than my own physical existence. I really enjoyed this poem.

  2. John Stevens Says:

    Thank you Jim. I think I’ll stick with Happy St Lucy’s Day! – and I’m glad you have eyes to enjoy those Japanese paintings.

  3. extrasimile Says:

    John, I am immensely pleased that this poem chimed so well with your situation. Congratulations on your new grandchild!
    I guess this is my annual St. Lucy’s Day, winter solstice, poem. ‘Evening’, then, because we are at the season’s end—the world’s midnight and all that. ‘Evening’ because it’s an old man looking at ‘the babies’. One of my favorite lines from Wallace Stevens is:
    It is the infant A standing on infant legs,
    Not twisted, stooping, polymathic Z,
    He that kneels always on the edge of space
    In the pallid perceptions of its distances.

    He says it is the infant A, but he spends more time with stooping polymathic Z…
    Wordsworth’s Ode: I’m familiar with ‘Intimations of Immortality’ so I can’t say it wasn’t in the back of my mind—but it certainly wasn’t in the forefront. I have mixed feelings about Wordsworth. He’s obviously a good poet, but, somehow, I can’t get into him. Read the Prelude? I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.
    The Christmas season: yes, obviously it has something to do with the incense, etc—though I have to tell you I just went to see an exhibit of Sakai Hōitsu—one of the great painters, and one I’d never heard of— at the Japan Society, and a number of his paintings were done on top of gold leaf. It more likely this is what put the idea into my head.
    St. Lucy’s Day is this Thursday.
    Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
    This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
    Both the year’s and the day’s deep midnight is.

    And best wishes for the new year.
    Jim
    (Assuming of course that the Mayan calendar…)


  4. Wonderful and such a great poem.

    New blog check it out.

    Pain can only wax illusions

    http://charliezero1.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/pain-can-only-wax-illusions/

  5. John Stevens Says:

    Glorious! I think this might be one of my favourites from you, Jim. It works so well on different levels.
    First there is the simple appeal of the baby: “each baby glows. Wings unfurled …” and later “so much energy, so concentrated …”. My wife and I have a very new grandson and these words perfectly capture the joy in that.
    But there’s more, and you set us wondering about the way the child grows, the way life unfolds – that ‘expansion’ – the basic oddity about our little lives.
    Your suggestion that they move more like falcons than kites is highly suggestive: the human baby seems all helplessness and inoffensiveness, but of course it is programmed to become the hunter, the top of the food chain. All that potential!
    I wonder what ‘evening’ signifies to you in this poem. For me, after the thoughts of birth and youthfulness, evening hints at old age and the necessary approach of death.
    I also wonder whether you had Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations of Immortality’ in the back of your mind, not least with its line about how we are born trailing clouds of glory from heaven (probably heretical, but no doubt a popular, belief).
    And did the Christian Advent feature in the context for writing this? It’s the reference to incense and gold leaf (as in altar paintings and icons) that suggests this to me.
    It’s a splendid poem. Joyful, but with an edge. Very accessible, but with hidden depths and plentiful surprises.


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