Celebrate National Poetry Month!
Before this longing,
I lived serene as a fish,
At one with the plants in the pond
The mare’s tail, the floating frogbit,
Among my eight-legged friends,
Open like a pool, a lesser parsnip,
Like a leech, looping myself along,
A bug-eyed edible one,
A mouth like a stickleback,—
A thing quiescent!
The wild stream, the sea itself cannot contain me:
I dive with the black hag, the cormorant,
Or walk the pebble shore with the humpbacked heron,
Shaking out my catch in the morning sunlight,
Or rise with the gar-eagle, the great winged condor,
Floating over the mountains,
Pitting my breast against the rushing air,
A phoenix, sure of my body,
Perpetually rising out of myself,
My wings hovering over the shorebirds,
Or beating against the black clouds of the storm,
Protecting the sea-cliffs.
- Theodore Roethke
I have Doraine at Dori Reads to thank for introducing me to this poem... but I did not know she would claim it as her favorite. Here's what she has to say: "John Gaynor Banks says that desire is 'part of the Atomic energy of the soul.' Leanne Payne says, 'Desire the great things.' It’s so easy to squelch our desires, so freeing when we allow ourselves the gift of longing. I love Roethke’s images here. Before-- frogbit, a lesser parsnip, a stickleback. And then, longing releases that atomic energy and becoming is realized. Beautiful!"
I couldn't agree more. Thanks, Doraine!