I have been listening to the crickets sing their love songs at night, and
it reminds me of a treasured poem. The poems I like the best, the ones I
understand the most are usually the ones that define my own experience in
sharper images and more perceptive words than I could muster myself. I
reverence the way the mind of a good poet works. Sometimes I use lines of poetry as
prayer. The Prayer of the Cricket is
one that often falls from my lips when I have been shabby or small.
I am little and very black,
but I thank You
for having shed
Your warm sun
and the quivering of Your golden corn
on my humble life.
Then take—but be forbearing, Lord—
this little impulse of my love:
this note of music
You have set thrilling in my heart.
For me, the images in this poem are their plain selves, unfussy and straightforward: a humble cricket, a thankful heart, a song of praise; but they are something broader too, encompassing all of me at my worst and best, all of the common and specific graces of Providence and my own modest yet earnest responses to them.
Many years ago for our nineteenth anniversary, my husband gave me this slim volume of poetry: Prayers From the
Ark by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold translated from the French by Rumer
Godden. The poems are simple but sage, and I recognize myself in many of them, as in the prayers of the cricket, lark, butterfly, glow worm and ox...while there are others I can only aspire to. Oh, to be a dog or a bee! It is an often read, beloved book and the only thing that could improve it for
me would be to possess the ability to read the poems in the original French…je suis tout petit et très noir…
We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost.
~ Henry Rollins ~
Sitting on my deck in the late
afternoon shade with the warmish winds of summer’s wreckage sifting through the
trees, I am writing stories and sprinkling water on the new sod I laid in the
back garden yesterday. There are sun diamonds sparkling in the wet grass; bees are feasting in the lavender; and a chorus of crickets is singing secrets to the
earth. Fragrant pots of rosemary, basil and thyme at my elbow, still smelling
of sunshine, will soon give up the ghost but will continue to haunt me in the
shape of stews, roasted vegetables, sauces, pizza and bread as the days shorten
and the cold closes in. Why did I wait so long to grow herbs in the summer?
What other joys have I overlooked that take so little effort yet give so
These days I welcome the apparition of summer because it is milder than the full-bodied being. While I do prefer autumn over the other offspring of the year, I am in no hurry to release this last embrace of the season.
While I admit to being obsessive and compulsive on some levels, I am
not one of those who cannot tolerate any dust on the furniture or leaves on the
lawn. Okay, I do enjoy green grass and crisp edges and there is that hopeless
yearning that the weeds would stay forever young, or that I would, so that I could spend countless hours on my knees chasing
them without the creaking consequences I suffer these days; but when the final
furnace blast of summer wilts even the rabbits resting in the shade beneath my
garden bench…I give up. If not for my trusty husband, the grass would turn
brown and not even the pots of geraniums would survive.
There is a weed growing in a crevice of my front walk. It is growing
bigger all the time and yet, slightly compulsive person that I am, I
continually walk past it resisting the urge to pull it. There is hardly a space
for purchase but it is thriving better than my pampered impatiens.
That weed has tenacity. Day after day, it stubbornly clings to the aim of every
weed to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. That weed’s got guts. If it
is afraid that I might suddenly sneak up from behind and whack it, you wouldn’t
be able to guess from its placidly determined demeanor.
The reason I haven’t pulled it, poisoned it or whacked it is this: I
admire it, both its inner and outer beauty; I am curious to see how long it
will last against the vicissitudes of nature; and I appreciate the reminder in my daily pursuits that I need a little more of that weediness in my own walk.