I chug along, like a freight train winding its way through varied terrain, only to be stopped in my tracks by beauty, inspiration, reminders of what it’s all about. A poem by Sylvia Plath did this for me today. Her poem, Black Rook in Rainy Weather, speaks of how something so insignificant can, at times, catch our breath, and blaze before us a light that illumines even the dullest of our life’s terrains, seasons, moments. On the heels of a week of dreadful sickness in our family, including Maddie whose diabetes complicated things far worse than I could’ve imagined, I was in dire need of this. A black rook on a “stiff twig” on a rainy dreary day becomes something of incandescent beauty for Plath. I’ve known these stop-in-your-tracks, “angel at the elbow”, moments; and it is these things I, as an artist, long to pass on to you. Though these blazing moments seem to come unbidden, I do think we would do well to look for them, to slow down our frenzied pace, to look up from the task at hand, and gaze at the rook. Just before reading this poem, I was captured by the lovely tangle of lunch boxes and bread above our fridge. Go figure that! Yet it was sparkling…we have white Christmas lights above the cabinetry in the kitchen that seemed to make these mundane items glow. The line drawing doesn’t show you that. But it is precisely that catch-my-eye vision that caused me to want to draw…and that’s all that mattered. Whatever it is that catches your breath, draw it! Sing it! Write about it! Dance it!
Share it with the rest of us…that’s one of the things we’re here for. I’m so glad Sylvia Plath did.
Black Rook in Rainy Weather
On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers
in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident
To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.
Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly
A certain minor light may still
Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects
now and then-
Thus hallowing an interval
By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate,
I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in the dull, ruinous landscape);
Yet politic; ignorant
Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow, I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant
A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content
Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you dare to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.
0 thoughts on “What we’re here for”
You are such an inspiration! My prayers are with you and your little girl.
now spmethig pushed me to check the email just before I left the house to go find some supplies to create with and there was you and the poem–screaming at me—helping me instantly feel better about a slew of things..just like your sketch… I am so touched and will print out the verse to read often..thankyou ! Winna
You are so welcome, Winna! May today bring an angel at your elbow.
Beautiful – I was sorely in need of this type of solace today. When I took my dogs for a walk today I pulled up at the beach and blue fairy wren flew down onto the bonnet of the car. It was so beautiful and I felt truly blessed.
My child suffers from diabetes and we are just changing her from two needles a day to 4 on the pen and it is a stressful process as it is like starting all over again. After a visit to the paediatrician today I just felt wrung out so I sympathise and I sincerely hope you are all well again.
Jennifer, I’m thinking about you and your child today…may you have more blue fairy wren moments this week!
So someone else piles stuff up on the fridge! I really try to keep it cleared off but extra boxes start to accrue. I wonder if I should try putting it in my sketchbook!
Nice poem. Very nice. I don’t always understand poetry but you opened the door on this one before I read it so I could. I had that moment this morning. It’s cloudy and dull today but for a moment the early morning sun poked out and lit up the desert like no ordinary day’s sunshine does. It was beautiful like what I would expect from an angels radiance. I enjoyed the moment but got to again when your post reminded me of it.