21 August 2010

Figure Not

I love how really good poems focus the attention on the beauty of the ordinary, the divine details.  In her poem "For Denis at Ten" Marie Ponsot takes us walking with a boy, Denis, on his way to a brook to harvest watercress, a happy little chore he's been sent to do, by grownups no doubt, who probably need their world-weary palates entertained by something crisply cold & bitter.  On his way, Denis notices critters, cow poop, sky, stones. They are just there, and so is he, and that is that; he is on his way to the brook.  And,

                             He goes there, whistling.
                                               Nothing reminds him of something.
                             He sees what is there to see.

Oh, perhaps in her imagination Ponsot idealizes a tiny bit the child's sense of the world's immediacy, that be-here-nowness we somehow believe children naturally possess.  Still, I appreciate the poem's suggestion that a walk to the brook (or, by extension, down the street, across the room, around the continent) need not be laden with symbolism, metaphor, nostalgia, anxiety, imminence, the fancy figures we think make meaning.  The world is as the world is. Focus the attention.  See what is there to see.