Friday, January 16, 2009

The Difference

Since Nathan mentioned the poem prompt I gave on his blog, I figured I'd go ahead and post what I wrote that night as well. The prompt was to write on either the difference between the purchase and the gift, or just on the idea of purchases or gifts. A nice wide-open prompt, but one which had a very specific point of origin for me.

Awhile back, in the summer of 2007 I think, I read a book of essays by Scott Russell Sanders called Hunting for Hope. It's a great book, about family relationships, and our relationship to the natural world, and ways of finding hope in a world that's so messed up. He writes at one point about the difference between the purchase and the gift, with the idea that nature is a gift to us: it is something we can not buy, can not write, can not choose, can not control. We must be passive and just listen. (okay, cutting this short cuz S. just walked in, and we need to work on the collaborative piece.) Go check out the book!

The Difference

Open windows in summer are a gift,
the breeze that comes unbidden,
uneven, on its own terms.
You must wait for it, not command

an on/off switch, set a comfortable
seventy degrees, low speed or high.
There is no purchase, no control,
no ceiling fan, no central air.

All weather is a gift, cold
or hot, dry or wet, kind
or cruel. Your smallness
is a gift, humbled in the wind.

You purchase the roof that shelters,
the umbrella, the fur-lined gloves.
I walk bare-headed in the rain, I wait
for sunshine, for calm, for love.

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