Monday, September 23, 2013

Daily Prompt: Noticing in Place

After a series of meandering turns on unfamiliar roads in Ashland, Oregon, I found a swing hanging from a thick cork tree over a duck pond in a small cemetery. This is no ordinary swing; it's a hanging sofa assembled from a springed metal bed frame, cut and welded into a gentle angle, softened with a futon mattress. This is a spot to watch the sun rise and turn fields gold, to see dust clouds kicked up by horses dashing to the fence for morning hay. 

I settled into the swing, letting the quiet morning unfold. A flock of starlings flew in parabolas, shifting from apostrophes to asterisks to dashes depending on the angle of their black bodies against the sky. Sandpipers picked insects from a mowed field as sprinklers dampened the ground. A hawk settled with a rustle overhead, indiscernible among brown branches. I stayed until the sun came up high enough to be overly warm on my face, and surrendered the swing to whomever would rest on it next. 

That swing is a Day Poem. Someone made it, using what he or she had on hand, frame, futon, chain, tree. Making it took into account structure, intent, usability and placement. And then the maker offered the swing up as a thing to be shared. Within the swing, a sitter makes her own observations and connection, finds her own rest. Think of your poems as a formed thing hovering in space like that swing as an offering to the place, an invitation to stop and notice. 

Later, I started a poem.

Memorial Hills

A salute to cemetery trees:
their branches and leaves

shade damp ground
where loved ones rest

(the unloved too) bound
by roots sipping nourishment.

Buried bones cheered by birds in nests
grasp that every one is heaven sent.

Prompt: Observe for a few minutes in a new place, maybe on a park bench during your lunch break, on a low wall while out walking the dog, or drag a chair to a corner of your yard you usually do not sit in. Don't write. Notice without judging or classifying. A few hours or days later, take a few minutes and recall your impressions. Let imagination work on memory. Compose a poem in your head. Or write down lines. You're exercising your poetic mind either way.

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