Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Morning Thanks--a canoe on a still lake
This morning's Writer's Almanac features some sweet nostalgia, sure to make almost anyone regret no more being a kid. It's all about passionate, first-love silliness, and in many ways, in terms of time, the opposite of a whole slew of old seduction poems from masters like Andrew Marvell and John Donne, who wanted to stop time rather than race to through it, wanted to turn time's winged chariot on a dime and send it racing off almost anywhere in the cosmos but over their love nests. If you're almost fourteen, Mr. Soto says, it's not like that; what he remembers, at least, is wanting to rip off calendar pages--
Time with You
Gary Soto We're thirteen, almost fourteen, And so much in love We want the years to pass-- Clouds roll at super speed, rains fall, Flowers unfold and die at the snap Of our fingers. I want to stuff sand Through a fat hourglass, And rip the pages from the calendar. Let me blow candles from my cake. Let my puppy stretch to full size.
Even if you weren't head-over-heels sometime as a kid, the images alone are worth the price of admission, don't you think?--"I want to stuff sand/Through a fat hourglass."
And here's the last and memorable couplet: When we turn eighteen, Time will become a canoe on a still lake.
Okay, maybe it's not Shakespeare--as in "Shall I compare thee." After all, "a summer's day" is without a doubt a blessing (sorrowfully, we're in our last of them right now). But then, who on earth couldn't love a canoe on a still lake? There's nothing unseemly about that last image. Time's slowed to a crawl, he seems to say, but that's not half-bad either.
All of which is to suggest, I reckon, nothing more than this--that the uncontainable teenage passion he'll never, ever forget, honestly and truly only gets better.
That's right. Read it again--that canoe on a still lake is nothing to sneeze at. Time eventually slows into forever, which is to say it only gets better.
If this poem isn't Soto talking to his long-time lover, I'm Oscar Meyer. "Time with You" is unsullied love poetry, first line to last--and maybe more like Donne and Marvell than first glance would have you think because Mr. Soto--I don't know him--is, years later, still sweet-talking, still in seductive mode. He's wanting love, even though he's got it, even as he's braying about it. He's as hungry as he was at fourteen, just a bit more thoughtful.
There's something to be said about being sixty too, because oaring a canoe on a still lake isn't half bad.
I don't know--I just like it. The poem that is.
But then, being love isn't half bad either, in or out of that canoe.
This morning's thanks is for a poem that put me on a still lake in a canoe, even though I was already there.