Meditation at Oyster River (excerpt)
The self persists like a dying star,
In sleep, afraid. Death’s face rises afresh,
Among the shy beasts, the deer at the salt-lick,
The doe with its sloped shoulders loping across the highway,
The young snake, poised in green leaves, waiting for its fly,
The hummingbird, whirring from quince-blossom to morning-glory—
With these I would be.
And with water: the waves coming forward, without cessation,
The waves, altered by sand-bars, beds of kelp, miscellaneous driftwood,
Topped by cross-winds, tugged at by sinuous undercurrents
The tide rustling in, sliding between the ridges of stone,
The tongues of water, creeping in, quietly.
~ Theodor Roethke
I love Theodore Roethke’s poetry! And the poems comprising The Far Field, in particular (from which the above is excerpted), I find remarkable. He’s in love with the plants and animals of the natural world—and describes them with such playful, delicate intimacy—that their radiance is somehow, surprisingly, almost magically, unveiled.
This passage from Meditation at Oyster River came to mind this morning, upon waking from a rather agitated dream-sequence. While I don’t generally have nightmares—viz. dream experiences permeated by intense fear—there are frustration-based scenarios that occur, every now and again.
In such dreams, I’m preparing for a journey of some sort—but before I leave I need to pack, and can’t seem to find the items that I feel are required. So I rush around frantically looking for this or that, while worrying that I’m going to miss the departure time.
In last night’s iteration of this dream, it was a spaceship that I was due to board, with launch-time impending. And was searching for the clothes and other gear that I thought I would need for such an interplanetary journey—stuffing them quickly into a duffle-bag.
I can’t say whether or not I made the flight, because I woke up from the dream while I was still packing. And was quite happy to notice those agitated images replaced by the beautiful flowing images of Theodore Roethke’s poetry.