The Goldfinch

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1:01 PM

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, is the fictional novel I am mesmerized with right now.  It has proven to be one of those books that every lover of fiction hopes for; a story so well written that the characters can't help but endear themselves to you in a very profound way. 

    Then today, I discovered a new poet.  Her name is Jane Hirshfield.  Here are two of her poems that are incredibly touching:

The Weighing

The heart's reasons
seen clearly
even the hardest
will carry
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.

As the drought-starved
antelope forgives
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her, 
she enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.


Standing Deer

As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is 
too loved or too heavy to part with,
the heart may grow cluttered.
And still the house will be emptied,
and still the heart.

As the thoughts of a person
in age sometimes grow sparer,
like a great cleanness come into a room,
the soul may grow sparer;
one sparrow song carves it completely.
And still the room is full,
and still the heart.

Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

Beloved, what can be, what was,
will be taken from us.
I have disappointed.
I am sorry.  I knew no better.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.


Google Search did not allow me to read enough of Jane Hirshfield.  So I had to move on to other poems by other poets; and so I discovered this. It is by William Stafford.

Traveling Through The Dark

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By the glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason---
her side was warm;
her fawn lay there waiting, alive,
still, never to be born.
Beside the mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.


The truth is that, "no eye is on the sparrow".

And that leads me back to The Goldfinch again and thinking about Theo, who said, "Because I don't care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat.  Because, here's the truth:
life is a catastrophe.   The basic fact of existence - of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do - is a catastrophe.  Forget all this ridiculous OUR TOWN nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You are Too Wonderful to Grasp, &c. For me - and I'll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool.  Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts.  No release, no appeal, no "do overs" no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death".

Too much introspection for today I suppose, which I blame on my recent readings, all of which oddly enough (and not by my choosing) carry adult themes of death and loss.  I have come to the conclusion that nature will not change one wit to address a desire, no matter how terribly we long for it and no matter what living plant or animal we happen to be. 
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