The View from Grandma’s House

January 15, 2014

Why visions start when a hummingbird
sips nectar from an early spring flower;
why summer comes, and with it palisades of sorrow
and sickness, silences her children must reword
as thoughts of piety: hands folded round
a twig, as if it were a verb form for
something so real, the present
must be past and over, while the future
lies flat, ready to be reformed by a sacred tongue.
You get it? No one knows why the dogs bark,
only that they did.  That freeze
the dog’s nose detects always lies ahead;
We live our lives in faint cages in bright houses;
a dog lives his with each sniff. Here, Bowser!

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5 Responses to “The View from Grandma’s House”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    Wonderful reading here!

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    May both of us always reach, Jim, and find the fire inside the gleam of stars.

  3. extrasimile Says:

    Iris, welcome to extrasimile. I think you’ve hit on something fundamental: the calmness (or maybe ‘control’ or ‘deliberation’) rubbing up against the openness to being—the ‘view in this case’—,might serve as a useful model for reading, poetry, sure, but reading in general as well, but let mee include Thomas in th is discussion…
    Thomas: first, an unabashed complement—and I may have said this before, but it’s worth saying again—I think you may be my ideal reader. [stop that blushing].. But let me expand this thought a little. Your commentary comes close to the way I’d like to see everyone read. I’d like to see myself read this way. A line by line, sentence by sentence, word by word, battle with the poem / text itself. For example:
    But remember, the children must reword silences. What an idea!
    And then
    But wait! Hold on!
    Piety is
    “hands folded round
    a twig…”
    Would that everyone would say ‘Wait! Hold on!’ when reading. Remember Thoreau’s notion of reading in the ‘high sense’—‘’what we have to stand on tip-toes to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to’
    To expand further: This must be the key to writing as well as reading, to finding one’s ‘voice’. I will copy out a brief passage from Susan Howe’s book, ‘My Emily Dickenson’: [page 13]
    My voice formed from my life belongs to no one else. What I put into words is no longer my possession. Possibly has opened. The future will forget, erase or recollect and deconstruct every poem. There is a mystic separation between poetic voice and ordinary living. The conditions for poetry rest outside each life at a miraculous reach indifferent to worldly chronology.
    Let us stand together on tip-toes and reach. shall we?

  4. Thomas Davis Says:

    Oh, good Lord Jim. Where do I start? The view from Grandma’s house, a place most of us associate with childhood and a time without the burden of life lived.
    There is humor in this, but first an explanation:
    “Why visions start when a hummingbird
    sips nectar from an early spring flower;
    why summer comes…”
    But summer is not me and my brother throwing a ball over Grandma’s roof so that we can be surprised where on the roof it comes down. Palisades of sorrow and sickness comes with this summer. “…silences her children must reword/as thoughts of piety…” Her? Who is her? Grandma? If it is Grandma then this is a hint that she is a stern Grandma, maybe the Grandma of Time or the Grandma of the strict church of rules and piety. But remember, the children must reword silences. What an idea!
    But wait! Hold on!
    Piety is
    “hands folded round
    a twig, as if it were a verb form for
    something so real, the present
    must be past and over, while the future
    lies flat, ready to be reformed by a sacred tongue.”
    The future lies flat, ready to be reformed by a sacred tongue after the present, so real, is past and over.
    You get it?
    Do I? Really?
    Well,
    No one knows why the dogs bark,
    only that they did.
    Realness is the did, the verb form of something real, not the reason behind the event.
    That freeze
    the dog’s nose detects always lies ahead…
    Never in the present.
    And oh the Shakespearean summary at the end of fourteen lines even if it is not as a couplet.
    We live our lives in faint cages in bright houses;
    a dog lives his with each sniff. Here, Bowser!
    There is a difference between dogs, children, and even Grandma is her house. A dog, always detecting white its nose what lies ahead, is always in the present of each sniff, leaving what is at the moment, not in the future its nose detects.
    But we? You and I? We live our lives in faint cages in bright houses, remembering the time my brother threw a ball over my grandmother’s roof, and I dashed to try to catch it before it touched the ground, and we would have to go inside where my Grandma was baking a chocolate pie.
    Life seems like a cage to me right now. A faint cage? Ready to fade? Perhaps. I certainly live in a bright house filled with love. But I discern a whiff of truth in this poem. May browser always come to Here!

  5. Iris Orpi Says:

    There is a vague sense of nostalgia, a languid questioning. But there is also a sense of fiery wonder and an emotional openness to what’s out there. This was a sweet ride. Calm but evocative.

    Have a good day.


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