Sometimes I have an urge to use big words I don’t yet know the meaning of, or better yet to make up new words to describe certain perfections, like this dawn when the sun rose into a fog-shrouded sky at the exact moment the mist receded. For one instant the dark flared – gilded with stars – then gave way to morning. The camera was no match, nor really is this description.
I’ll remember the moment, keep working to get it right. And then I’ll drub it up against something rugged to set the beauty in relief. “No threat, no poem” is a truism we poets abide and practice and teach. As Dave Smith writes in his essay “St. Cyril’s Dragon” The Threat of Poetry:
Great art intends threat…The good poem destabilizes, unbalances, stirs up, digs down, demands feeling in exact circumstances…No poem succeeds without threat, implied or explicit. Threat manifests what is important to know. Threat engineers the struggle of self to come into being.
That’s all well and good, but the constant struggle takes energy and it’s necessary for me, for you, to take time to revive. Whenever I forget to build rest into my schedule, the universe has a gentle way of reminding me. The cast of characters hanging around La Jolla Cove this weekend taught infinitely wise lessons with their presence.
It’s great to hang out with friends.
But having someone special is the best gift of all.
Now before you think there’s no threat here, consider. The La Jolla Cove seals are no stranger to peril. Tourists and restaurateurs complain about the stench of too many seals too close to town. Conservationists and environmentalists clash with businesses to protect the seals. You can read a roundup of the controversy, or crisis as some call it, at the Seal Sitters link here.
Or you cannot. Sometimes it’s alright to take a break from crisis or controversy and simply enjoy the beauty right in front of you.
And that, good readers, is the last word on the March of contrasts.
Sealed with a kiss
p.s. When you are revived and ready to seriously consider how addressing the threat can create a fine poem, do revisit Dave Smith’s essay, “St. Cyril’s Dragon” The Threat of Poetry.” In fact, you might even sign up for Poetry Daily. From the “About Poetry Daily” page:
Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry. Each day, we bring you a new poem from new books, magazines, and journals.
Poems are chosen from the work of a wide variety of poets published or translated in the English language. Our most eminent poets are represented in the selections, but also poets who are less well known. The daily poem is selected for its literary quality and to provide you with a window on a very broad range of poetry offered annually by publishers large and small.