Thursday, December 04, 2008

Of Golden Leaves and a Crescent Moon

Basket and Pear

Full days. Where to begin?

A solitary train ride, as sun set over Hudson waters... rays slant, blushing on blue, then fading to charcoal as night descended. Walking alone through New York city streets, buildings rising mammoth, imposing, making me feel my smallness, taste it like strong tea brisk in my mouth.

Or the lone tree on U.N. Way still dressed in golden leaves that flipped like pennies in a child's hands. I stopped to take it in, there on the rushing streets of the city that never sleeps. On my way to hear Os Guinness at the Roosevelt. The Roosevelt, decked for the holidays, in greens and reds, sparkling lights, jazz music greeting me at the door. Chatter and velvet and the smell of cinnamon and vodka in the air.

Maybe I should speak of the crescent moon over the East River, exuding gentility and power like the grandfatherly poet Samuel Hazo who I heard Tuesday night. Steady and enduring as that crescent moon, he recited straight from memory for over an hour. Recited his own deep verse and a little Shakespeare, in an old Catholic church of stone and wood and flickering candles. Verse to make me laugh and cry. And he asked...

... can you think of one thing someone has said today or this week... one thing that you will never forget... if you can't, you must question your attention to the poetic that is all around you, waiting to be heard, sniffed, tasted...

In silent answer, the flavor of grapes came sweet in my mouth. Katie's grapes. Little three-year-old Katie, filching Grandpa's grapes from the Thanksgiving basket. The basket that had sat empty on that holiday, waiting for each of us to put our piece of fruit in it. Fruit we silently assigned a joy and a sorrow that we brought to this year's table. Grandpa's fruit: grapes. But who knows his joy and sorrow?

Mommy! my youngest had cried, Katie's eating Grandpa's joy and sorrow!

This is the line I won't forget. Like night falling on the Hudson, and a solitary train ride, and the golden penny tree, and the moon, the crescent moon, shining alone, seemingly small against the giant of New York City. The poetry of life, come to visit. Come knocking, asking, will you take me in?

Basket and Fruit photo by Saima Barkat. Used with permission.


Ann's Waiting Hope
High Calling's Random Acts of Poetry: Christmas Lament
LL's Midnight's Gift
Erica's Waiting Sky
Marcus's Where We Live

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Blogger Sarah said...

This whole post feels like autumn to me. Thank you, LL, because I don't really get autumn here.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

It's not that I forgot, but sometimes I have trouble accessing the files... you know what I mean?

Lovely photo, Saima. And LL, your words made music in this post.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

What words from today's poem? I think something one of my fourth graders said, probably off a t-shirt he'd seen somewhere: "It's not my day to care." Oh, but it is.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh LL -- I am there with you on the train, walking through the streets, hearing the chatter, smelling the vodka. This post was enchanting. And yes, what has passed over my ear drums today but not really penetrated my heart and my thoughts. Makes me want to listen to today all over again.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Good reminder. I love to look and listen for the little things, but sometimes like now, I get too busy.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

Oh, how lovely. The poetry of life....I love that. It really is everywhere and what joy there is when we notice it!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Taking it in, all in. These words you offer, this post. Rich words, deeper truths.

Will I wake up to hear and see and taste... and give Him glory?

Too often I drowse through the poem.

Thank you, L.L.
Your words stir.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:18 AM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I've never heard a city described in such words. I felt like I wanted to be there. And that's high praise from a mountain boy.

8:21 AM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

L.L., your words took me there! Painted a picture in my mind, put a taste in my mouth. Lifted me out of the moment and let me ride for a few minutes with you, see through your eyes. Thank you for that!

10:34 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... but the air... how it felt like winter. :)

Craver... what files? what trouble? can't relate ;-) On another note, thanks for your kind words.

Joelle... great found poem!

Charity... each day its own gifts... today is another chance.

Ruth... taking time to slow... yes, that's the thing.

Rebekah... life... so many gifts.

Ann... to sleep, perhaps to dream. Maybe there's something we could find in the drowsing too? :)

Nancy... as in, it is...

Billy... the country girl in me feels overwhelmed by cities. I think I needed to see the golden leaves, the soft glow of the moon.

Erica... glad to have you with me for the journey. :)

11:03 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

... can you think of one thing someone has said today or this week... one thing that you will never forget... if you can't, you must question your attention to the poetic that is all around you, waiting to be heard, sniffed, tasted...

That is beautiful.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Lore Ferguson said...

Where? Where in the Adirondacks did you grow up? It's such a beautiful place to live and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Well, maybe for the world. But not one other single place.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Lore Ferguson said...

Schohaire is beautiful--I've spent quite a bit of time there myself. I'm in Potsdam!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Lore Ferguson said...

If there is any place in New York State to go to college (beside the city) it is Potsdam, the university capital of the state! It's a lovely, lovely place to live. Cold, yes, but we don't get nearly as much snow as the middle of New York!

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katie's eating Grandpa's joy and sorrow!

I love this! It makes me think of the times when someone is "eating" my joy! And sadly, it's usually the negative comments, or the worrisome ones that stick with me take my focus off the poetic, the beautiful, the spiritual. That's when I think, Stop stealing my joy!

2:19 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Marcus... I would love to hear your "one thing." I bet you have one. As for those beautiful lines, I'm not sure if that's exactly what he said, but it's the gist, which works for me.

Lore x 3 ... So nice to have you here at Seedlings and to know that we have pulled our poetry from the roots of the same mountains.

Jenn... Welcome. :) I had this idea that it was like God taking on our joys and sorrows, "eating" them in a way that said, "I take this into myself... I become one with you." And I thought that perhaps we all can be like God to one another if we deign to eat one another's joy and sorrows. Communion, I guess.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my site. I came back here and read your meaning behind "eating the joys and sorrows." Beautiful! Anyway, it made me think about something I have been wanting to write about. So thanks for the inspiration and you can come back and read what I just posted today. Blessings!

3:26 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I keyed in on the young one "eating" the joys and sorrows of the elders as well.
That sounds quite Biblical to me.
Quite relational too.

I sure would rather have someone eat my joys and sorrows along with me than to have to do it all alone.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Scott R. Davis said...

ordering several of your books from christian book distributors as gifts to people who help me and my friend out alot!!!! thanks for making it easy shopping this year. Hope it brings your count up well.

peace scott

9:20 PM  
Blogger sojourner said...

beautiful thank you for taking me to that place and the call to be attentive to "the poetic that is all around" me.....

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cherished words. I hear them everyday, perhaps in a different light than most. I look for them, listen for them, and when they come, they pause my spirit with the brilliancy of heaven's light. Many of those words are spoken through my children. As there are 4 and nineteen years worth of parenting under my belt, I've amassed quite a collection.

You are clever and wise to pen yours into remembrance.

By the way, received your book in the mail yesterday. Your words move me to new places of contemplation. I'm not sure where my thoughts are headed as I read, but it exceeds the usual. Thank you for your fresh heart and your obedience to write it accordingly.

God's peace to you and yours this Advent.


4:17 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jenn... I look forward to reading your post. If I haven't stopped in by Monday, feel free to remind me. :)

Erin... you've expressed it exactly how it felt to me. Relational. Communion in a deep sense.

Scott... many blessings as you and your friends read. Thanks for your encouragement.

Sojourner... a marvelous place it is. Glad you are going there.

Elaine... yes! Out of the mouths of babes. What shall I do when they've moved on? Also, I'm touched that you have put yourself into Stone Crossings. I hope you find respite there.

6:35 PM  

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