Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Poems

Heavy

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poets said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it—
books, bricks, grief—
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled—
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?



Coming to God: First days

Lord, what shall I do that I
can’t quiet myself?
Here is the bread, and
here is the cup, and
I can’t quiet myself.

To enter the language of transformation!
To learn the importance of stillness,
    with one’s hands folded!

When will my eyes of rejoicing turn peaceful?
When will my joyful feet grow still?
When will my heart stop its prancing
    as over the summer grass?

Lord, I would run for you, loving the miles for your sake.
I would climb the highest tree
to be that much closer.

Lord, I will learn also to kneel down
into the world of the invisible,
    the inscrutable and the everlasting.
Then I will move no more than the leaves of a tree
    on a day of no wind,
bathed in light,
like the wanderer who has come home at last
and kneels in peace, done with all unnecessary things;
every motion; even words.



Cormorants

All afternoon the sea was a muddle of birds
black and spiky,
long-necked, slippery.

Down they went
into the waters for the poor
blunt-headed silver
they live on, for a little while.

God, how did it ever come to you to
invent Time?

I dream at night
of the birds, of the beautiful, dark seas
they push through.



These poems are excerpted from Mary Oliver's book Thirst (Houghton Mifflin), used wth permission of the publisher and the author.















































Film

Arrested development

In director Todd Field’s Little Children, adapted from Tom Perrotta’s best-selling novel, Kate Winslet plays Sarah, an intelligent, expensively educated woman who is raising a preschool daughter in the suburbs. Her husband, Richard (Gregg Edelman), has apparently lost sexual interest in her; up in his study he amuses himself with photos of an Internet seductress known as Slutty Kay.
Poetry

Laughter

When I’m reading a joke out loud
from a new joke book, I hear
my voice start to falter, from laughter,
almost to weep, from laughter,
the way my sister’s voice did as a child
or a woman, especially if somebody
made a bathroom joke; and my father’s
voice did, when he wasn’t just poking
fun at someone, when he found
something really funny; slapstick
got him laughing that way, sometimes.
A laughter beyond words, maybe
beyond grief. As I hear myself
laughing like them, with them,
I say: a laughter beyond death.
Music

Sound alternatives

Gracing the cover of Paul Simon’s album Surprise (Warner Brothers) is an image of a wide-eyed infant. It’s a fitting one, as this album represents a potent artistic rebirth.
Poetry

Wayfaring strangers

This is a Spiritual War, you’ve got to understand that,
says the man on NPR. I’m getting out of my car

when his voice grabs hold, pulls me toward the dial.
My son died last week, he says, Humvee hit a mine—

it’s a Spiritual War. Anybody who doesn’t believe
me, just look right there in the Bible, you’ll see.

Right there, I say to him—yeah, like the Word is some dog-eared
road atlas. Just thumb down the index to Spiritual Warfare,

subheading Iraq, and you’ll see it all mapped out
right there waiting for you. No interpretation

required. Look right there and you’ll know how
to deploy, when to attack, where to stand when

it all goes down. My wife calls from the porch and I release
my stranglehold on the steering wheel. How long

have I sat, car door ajar, one foot grounded, parsing
this man’s language of loss? Oblique rays

of dusk cut swaths of light across the meadow,
halted only at pasture’s edge by a stand

of sweet gums. The trees reach, lean into the light,
pulling me with them; thus we bend,

blind pilgrims all, tilting
toward a New Jerusalem.