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I love so many things about this poem by Ruth Stone: the personification of a linden tree and a small crack in the avenue; the sense of wonder, joy, and buoyancy; the lightness and humor implicit as well as the genuine sentiment; the way the tone is set and the reader is invited into the fairy tale by beginning with the line “Once upon an;” most of all, the coyness.

A Love Like Ours

Once upon an avenue a small crack
smiled at a linden tree.
“I love your dappled shadow,” it thought;
but only to itself.
The small crack stretched with pleasure.
The pure meld of the sun boiled
at its fragmented edges.
“How I crumble,” the crack whispered,
“how the weight and the shock go through me.
I am a true MacAdam.”
The linden tree shook itself in the jet stream.
It hummed with wings.
Male and female, pollen and pistil; it hummed.
Toward the equinox the air was filled with
a riding of seeds. They went in pushing crowds,
kicking and falling. The prickled the street
with their adolescent bursting.
In the morning the street cleaner,
gushing water, rolled over them
with thousands of bristles.
It brushed them along in a stream to the gutter.
One shy young linden seed was swept into the crack.
The crack gave a sigh.
At last it knew that the linden tree had noticed.
“A love like ours,” said the crack,
“could split the street, could break up traffic!
Given time, it could even damage the sewer!”

Ruth Stone © 1995

This poem is featured in Stone’s book called Simplicity. Highly recommended.

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I’ve been doing a lot of posts about how to write properly for scientific papers because that’s primarily what I’ve been editing these days; however, I do have a Masters in Literature, poetry to be specific, so I thought it might be nice to have a poem on Sundays.Since I did my MA thesis on Seamus Heaney, I feel compelled to start this feature off with one of his early poems:

Digging

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging.  I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper.  He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf.  Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
 

 

Simple and successful. Although he won’t follow in his father’s footsteps and earn a living working outside in the elements with his hands, his pen will be his shovel and he’ll earn a living digging with it.

   

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